Where Have all the Tradespeople Gone?

When was the last time you tried to hire any tradesperson? If it’s been in the last few years then you understand how difficult it is to book an appointment with a plumber, electrician, HVAC guy, carpenter…you get the idea.

As a Gen-Xer I can shed some light on why finding skilled tradespeople is such a difficult task. There just aren’t any anymore. When my generation was in high school we looked down our noses at the trades. It’s a terrible thing to say but it’s true. We were all encouraged to go into four year university programs, get a degree, then sit in a white collar office, in a suit and tie. Well guess what that created? An enormous void.

No one seemed to think about the fact that the people who fixed our fridges, cars, water heaters, etc., would be retiring one day. Who the heck was going to replace them? In 2013 the BC Government estimated that within BC, there would be 150,000 vacancies for tradespeople in the next decade. Consequently we are in the thick of that shortage with very few skilled workers to fill those vacancies.

There is no quick fix to this problem. Most apprenticeships are four years long. We CAN start effecting change right now by talking to our kids about the trades. Our nieces and nephews, grandkids, our friend’s kids. Do you know someone who is looking for a career change? Steer them towards the trades. Maybe even the plumbing trade!

There are no guarantees in life but having a trade is about as close as you can get!

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