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Need A Job? Learn a Trade.

Even before the pandemic America was challenged in that many wanted better jobs, but they did not have the skills required by those that were hiring. The pandemic has accelerated the issue, just as it has further accelerated the move to online shopping, which now includes groceries and takeout food delivery.

Productivity, automation, AI, societal shifts and the pandemic have all had an impact on which jobs see growing demand; and which skills are required to pursue those jobs. Fewer restaurant and retail sales positions are required as consumers purchase more online. Those same online vendors are ramping their hiring, but they require a different skillset than the jobs they have displaced.

As I work with peer service companies across Jacksonville and the beaches communities, which include plumbers, electricians, appliance repair, carpentry and various forms of home improvement, the common complaint is that we cannot find enough skilled help. I, for example, need craftsman than can do a full range of home improvements. Repair rotten siding and trim, replace doors, repair drywall, and paint it all when done. (Selfish plug: If you, or somebody you know, has these skills and are struggling to find jobs and keep busy, give me a call).

Vocational programs have been pulled from our schools due to budget constraints and perceptions that everybody should pursue a 4-year degree to find a ‘good job’. Many wound up with massive debt and a degree in something not in demand. At the same time, the previous generation of skilled tradesman is getting older and hanging up their tool belts. Between these two trends is a widenings gap and an opportunity for those that need work. Learn a trade.

Everybody needs, and appreciates, indoor lighting and plumbing; but this requires electricians and plumbers. Florida would not be livable during the summer without air conditioning and refrigeration, which will always need installers and service personal to keep these systems running.

Growing tuition costs and unsure job prospects after graduation have many rethinking the college route. Is it right for them? For some it is, but for others learning a trade and getting good at it will offer greater financial upside and open doors for them that a college degree and mountain of debt will not open.

The story of America is the story of opportunity and hard work undertaken to grasp that opportunity. If you are not intimidated by hard work, if you take pride in seeing the fruits of your labor, and if you would like to be your own boss someday; then learning a trade might be your best path to a brighter future.

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