Don’t ignore the trades, kids (is it time to learn a trade skill?)


When growing up, it’s easy to form a preconception that the trades industry is second best. After all, how often do you hear a child wanting to become a plumber? Instead, they’re more likely to want to become an astronaut or a pop star!

But why is that? One view is that trades are seen as less glamorous, or even that trades are viewed as jobs for young men that fail their GCSEs. This is despite the fact that trades are very much one of the most important industries out there.

For many young children and teenagers on the road to adulthood, their idealised career path involves either college or university, followed by a full time job. That may be the right path for some, but one big option should really be open to wider consideration: the trades.

Instead of being seen as a ‘fallback’ rather than a first choice, more needs to be done to show that these offer the opportunity to discover new and exciting ways to look at the world. Let’s look into the actual figures behind young people’s perception of trades…

Why aren’t children and teenagers interested in entering the trades industry?

  • 53% of students say that working in trades just doesn’t interest them
  • 25% of students say that they are not interested in working in trades because they are not mechanically inclined
  • 24% of students say that they are just not good at fixing things
  • 21% of students who don’t consider a future in trades say it’s because they just don’t know enough about it
  • 15% of students would not consider a career in trades as they believe there is no future/opportunities involved in trades
  • 11% of students are not interested because they don’t think the trades industry is ‘cool’ (if you don’t think the trades industry is cool, don’t go running to them when your boiler is broken)
  • 10% of students say that the trades industry is not ‘high tech enough’

What are students’ impressions of jobs within the trades industry?

  • 54% of students believe there is a better future working in computers than working in skilled trades
  • 37% of students believe that working in an office is more respected than working with your hands
  • 25% of students believe that skilled trades jobs are old-fashioned

The problem with children and teenagers not wanting to have a career within the trades industry is simply down to them not being properly introduced to it. Based on the statistics above, there is an obvious opportunity to rope in a new audience, but education is key when introducing trades to the younger generation.

Here are students’ impressions of trades after having being educated on the benefits and opportunities:

  • Students who took vocational classes in trades became more hopeful of having a future career in that industry
  • 77% of students who took the classes said they would consider a career in skilled trades
  • 60% of students say they became interested in getting a job within the trades industry after learning that skilled tradespeople can work for someone else and still earn up to $90,000 / £70,000 or more per year
  • A majority of students stated having an increased interest in working in trades after discovering that skilled trades people can have flexible hours (55%), free job training is sometimes available (54%) and good work benefits (54%)
  • Students who know that a relative or a friend is working in the trades industry are more inclined to consider a career in trades (50%) than those who don’t know anyone working in that field (39%)

According to the statistics above, students are far more likely to be interested in learning a trade skill if they have been educated on the reality of training and working within the industry.

Being on the tools could go anywhere from being an employee to a sole trader and one day, you could own your own business. Other roles within the construction industry, such as engineering and surveying, could open other doors and bigger opportunities for you too. For example, our CEO, David Lawrence, started off as a civil engineer. He now runs a successful company and is doing something he really enjoys, not to mention the great team that comes with it (not to toot our own horns or anything, but we are pretty cool!).

The moral of this story is, even if you think the trades industry doesn’t offer great opportunities for you, or if you think it’s not ‘cool’ enough, maybe you should rethink your options and look into this sector in more depth. After all, who are you going to rely on to fix your boiler when it breaks?

*Source of study: https://www.reliableplant.com/Read/15760/poll-skilled-trades-rank-low-in-teens%27-career-options