Kudos to Terri Schlichenmeyer on her great (Book Biz) review on the trades vs. college (Blue Collar is no joke — June 22-28 edition). As a local mechanical contractor, we struggle every year in filling positions for plumbers, pipe fitters and sheet metal workers (sheet metal being the hardest to fill). With these positions paying more than $50,000 annually for skilled tradesmen, it is a shame that those in the “white-collar” arena look down their noses at someone working with their hands.
I have participated in career day at various schools in our area. You get something of a cool reception with many counselors who see college as the ONLY choice any intelligent high school graduate should pursue. This is absolutely a bunch of nonsense. Many teens simply don’t want the path that college offers. This is not to say that there are not many great choices among “professional careers” (I am a college graduate/CPA by trade). I would love to see more emphasis placed with educating high schoolers on their options. Promote our technical training and trades programs at community colleges. Work with companies in the trades who hire willing, motivated young people with no skills but are ready to learn. Satisfying careers are available for those in carpentry, plumbing, welding, metal fabrication, etc. while earning a very good living.
We have a saying around Metro Mechanical that as long as Mississippi continues to have hot summers and humans still need rest room facilities, you have a job. It can’t be exported to China or Mexico. It has to be accomplished right here with a set of hands. We have actually been hiring in the worst economy in a generation. Not everyone can say that. Let’s beat the drum loudly in Mississippi that there is honor in any honest profession including “blue collar” work.
Rick White, CPA
Vice president, co-owner Metro Mechanical Inc.