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Subject: Who is building America?

Written By: loki 13 on 08/09/07 at 8:32 pm

There is a crisis in this country that no one seems to care about. Too few young people are developing the skills
needed to build America. The building trades are suffering from the lack of artisans. Even what used to be trade
schools are now going by way of computer sciences. Todays youth lack the skills to perform manual labor and they
also lack the ambition to learn a trade.

I work in a union sheet metal shop, our union has a program for local kids enrolled in a trade school to enter a pre-
apprenticeship. I am amazed of the lack of skills these kids have. They either can't learn, or simply, don't want to
learn the trade. They come from a trade school and still lack the ability to operate simple hand tools.

You can see how much college is now capitalizing on the money made through TV deals for sports. Kids who barely
qualify for community college are getting into mainline programs because of the ability to throw, hit, dunk or shoot
a ball. Kids today want a quick, large payday playing sports not turning nuts and bolts.

If this trend doesn't change the kids who go to college and graduate with degrees can plan all the buildings
they want, there won't be anyone left to build them.

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: Rice_Cube on 08/09/07 at 10:38 pm

I can build stuff, just gimme some instructions and a few tools :)  Probably can't build them as good as the tradespeople but I'm reasonably confident I can conform to code and it won't fall apart.

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: GoodRedShirt on 08/09/07 at 10:48 pm

They have a free tuition for trades (building, plumbing, etc) at the institute I go to. Whether it helps or not, I guess it's an incentive for people to earn a trades certificate and not get a student loan vs. getting an arts degree and having a $20,000 loan. There is also a shortage of good, quality tradespeople here.

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: BrianMannixGirl on 08/10/07 at 10:16 am

Thats extremely true Loki - and not just in the US. Here in Australia we have the same problem where kids look down on getting a trade in the belief they will earn more with a degree.

As a result the mature aged builders, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, roofers etc etc are earning some of the biggest bucks in the nations and having to work well into their retirements because there is no one to take over.

Actually a major brick company here in Perth started a new course for women returning to the workforce after having children. They do a 3 month intensive brick laying course and then head for worksites that allow them to work during school hours. These women are now earning more than their husbands !

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 08/10/07 at 9:02 pm

Couldn't agree more, Loki.

When I was in school, kids who went to the vocational school were called low class.  It was where you went if you were dumb and poor.  The teachers and counselors at my high school said so in so many words.  You were supposed to go to college and become a doctor, a lawyer, a banker,  a computer scientist (or a teacher or a guidance counselor!).
:D

We got the idea those guys building houses down the road were a bunch of dopes.  That was as wrong a wrong-headed idea as there could ever be. 

Oh, five years out of high school, the kids who went to the voke were earning more money than those of us who went to college, and they weren't swimming in student loan debt.  Heck, most of them probably still make more dough and live happier lives.

I'm not suggesting the inherent worth of a vocation is how much money it pays...but those preppie teachers were.  I didn't realize in the 11th grade that the building contractor working on the school extension was getting a bigger paycheck than the principal!
::)

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: quirky_cat_girl on 08/10/07 at 9:07 pm

I totally agree with you Kevin.  I'm not saying that college is bad...but it's just not for everbody.  When my little boy gets older, I will encourage him to consider all options (college, trade school, etc).  You can really make a great living when you learn a trade. My husband's uncle is a plumber and has his own business....he makes a great living.

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 08/10/07 at 9:48 pm


I totally agree with you Kevin.  I'm not saying that college is bad...but it's just not for everbody.  When my little boy gets older, I will encourage him to consider all options (college, trade school, etc).  You can really make a great living when you learn a trade. My husband's uncle is a plumber and has his own business....he makes a great living.


Yes! Yes!  College isn't for everybody...and schools ought to quit telling everybody they have to go!  I live in a college town, I work on a university campus, and I spent five years in a four-year BA program.*  Most university students would not on their own show an interest in Plato or Mod. Lit. Crit. 201 and they shouldn't have to.  For most occupations what you really need is an apprenticeship.  I might feel a bit dfferently about molding all our youth into "well-rounded individuals" if college was free--but it ain't.  A person shouldn't have to go deep in debt just to qualify to earn a living.  That's silly. 

My modest proposal is to once again use public high school as a place to teach young people what they now must go to college to learn. 

I see the university years for so many students become a protracted adolescence with a worthless piece of paper the big reward. 

We need a "blue collar" economy if we are to excel as a nation, and that's all there is to it.  Thus we need to accord labor the same kind of honor we bestow on the so-called "professions."
;)

*It's called "super senior" nowadays!

"Size is not grandeur and territory does not make a nation."

--Thomas Huxley, on education
http://www.inthe00s.com/smile/10/znaika.gif

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: GoodRedShirt on 08/10/07 at 9:51 pm




We got the idea those guys building houses down the road were a bunch of dopes.  That was as wrong a wrong-headed idea as there could ever be. 


If it weren't for those "dopes" building houses down the road, we'd have no where to live. Or we'd still be living in caves.  :D

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 08/10/07 at 10:08 pm


If it weren't for those "dopes" building houses down the road, we'd have no where to live. Or we'd still be living in caves.  :D


It's a classist artifact we're clinging to.  100 years ago if you could get a college degree and work indoors it was a sign of refinement and upward mobility.  It just isn't true anymore.  It hasn't been true since the 1960s.

I'll tell you one thing that's certain.  College is big business and every big business needs a hook to draw customers.  One of the best hooks is "buying our product will make you better than other people."  It works for Mercedes-Benz and it works for UMass.  The difference is a Mercedes is cheaper and better quality!
:D

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: Red Ant on 08/11/07 at 12:18 am

Trade jobs will never go away, no matter how technically advanced we, as a society, become. We will always need plumbers, electricians, carpenters, road builders, bricklayers, etc.

Many people look down on these jobs for one reason or another. Many of those jobs are hard work, very hard compared to sitting in an office all day and writing computer code or planning meetings...

I saw a news clip yesterday about this... many companies are predicting a five year crisis in finding new, qualified workers to replace an aging workforce. Shortages could mean closings or moving overseas for some of these companies.

I, for one, have always gravitated to jobs where I use my hands and my mind. Trade jobs are not for idiots. Yes, there are many who couldn't make it into college and thus went the trade route, as well as many substandard mechanics (degree or not),  but I know people who did poorly in high school that are some of the best plumbers and carpenters to be found.

I work in data communications, I suppose... not IT, but installation. Wires don't run themsleves. There are perhaps 50 people who can design the software to every 1 that can or will install the hardware. I've got a corner on my field in this area due to that ratio.

Like I said, it's not easy work: the past week it has been over 115*F with heat index here, and I'm working in a building that has no air conditioning. It's not that physical compared to paving asphault or laying bricks, but my hands are pretty shredded from pulling close to four miles of wire in the past two weeks. Not to mention slicing my thumb down to the bone once already...

The pay is considerably more than what most college graduates will earn, that is if they even get that IT job over 50 other equally qualified applicants...

Who is building America? I am doing my part.


My husband's uncle is a plumber and has his own business....he makes a great living.


Gene, the man who, for a time, did all the plumbing at my former job, got 150$ per hour to come there. It was 250$ and hour on the weekends. Expensive, yes, but the man could do anything (and do it right the first time) when it came to plumbing. I'd hire him in a heartbeat to do anything I couldn't at my house.

Ant

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: Satish on 08/11/07 at 10:51 am


You can see how much college is now capitalizing on the money made through TV deals for sports. Kids who barely
qualify for community college are getting into mainline programs because of the ability to throw, hit, dunk or shoot
a ball. Kids today want a quick, large payday playing sports not turning nuts and bolts.


I don't think you can blame it on sports, though. It's only a very, very small fraction of kids who go on to pursue sports as a career.

I think the real problem is at the elementary and high school level. The schools don't do nearly a good enough job of getting kids interested in, and preparing them for, the building trades.

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: danootaandme on 08/11/07 at 1:53 pm

To many are playing video games instead of building soapbox racers and stuff like that.  I remember a long time ago reading an old fable about a rich man who made his son learn how to weave rugs.  He son was mad, but he did as his father told.  When the familys fortunes tumbled, and there he wasn't able to get a job at the court of the king, weaved rugs and was able to make a good living.  He was happy for what his father had done.  The lesson being that you it is good to have knowledge in books, but it is also good to have something to fall back on, too. 

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: quirky_cat_girl on 08/11/07 at 2:17 pm


To many are playing video games instead of building soapbox racers and stuff like that.  I remember a long time ago reading an old fable about a rich man who made his son learn how to weave rugs.  He son was mad, but he did as his father told.  When the familys fortunes tumbled, and there he wasn't able to get a job at the court of the king, weaved rugs and was able to make a good living.  He was happy for what his father had done.  The lesson being that you it is good to have knowledge in books, but it is also good to have something to fall back on, too. 




I agree. I think it's good to instill things like building/creating things in children when they are young.

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: esoxslayer on 08/11/07 at 3:30 pm


I agree. I think it's good to instill things like building/creating things in children when they are young.


More on this subject when I have a few minutes to type a proper response, but as long as there are video games and over educated kids, I'm gonna be naming my price on contracting, and I plan on working until I'm too old to swing a hammer, not because I have to, but because I want to.....

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: esoxslayer on 08/11/07 at 6:12 pm

OK...got a little time now so I can respond in the manner I'd like.

Yes, there are not enough (nowhere near enough) tradespeople out there today, especially good ones.  Seems like in times when the economy is poor, anybody who "used" to be something else is now a carpenter.  Hah !!  It's amazing how many "carpenters" out there have no clue what a sliding T-Bevel is for, how to blunt the tip of a finishing nail before you drive it into a piece of hardwood to keep it from splitting, or what "straight tape" is....and I'm talking about guys who are upwards of 35 or so.....

The conversation on the job site the other day was concerning this subject, the lack of todays youth learning a trade or having a hands on skill.  In 20 years from now, tradespeople are going to be able to name their price when they walk onto a job site, and owners are going to pay the price or be run out of business.

A lot of my business comes from people who have grasped the Home Depot (or is it Lowes ??) mentality of "You can do it, we can help"..yeah, right.  Another big portion of my work comes from people who got suckered into taking a cheaper bid, or hiring a "handyman" to tackle a bigger renovation, or new construction project.  They find out real quick that low bid and nice guy don't equate to a quality job, or a 5-6 day workweek, or showing up and finishing a job as promised.

Failure of these "handymen" to look into the project, understand what problems may be encountered and keeping the customer informed before, during and after the project is completed is for the most part non-existent.  Concise written contracts, explaining in detail the job, discussing "schedule of value" parameters, making pay schedules, and even telling in some cases the homeowner to take my contract to their attorney because I have nothing to hide is not there, even with some of the "larger" companies in the area..

Talk to some of these so called experienced carpenters today, and talk to them about sistering floor joists and see the puppy dog cocked head look appear...talk to a drywall finisher about shining a halogen light down the length of a wall or ceiling to make sure the finish is perfect and see the "what are you, crazy??" looks appear also.

For any of you who are either youngsters still in school, or have kids about to hit the age in school where they can go to a vocational school before they graduate, regardless of whether or not college is planned, think about learning a trade.  Why??  Here's why....

I bill my time to the customer at 60 bucks an hour, of which I get to see about $37.80/hour after I take out the 37% I have to to remain in compliance with doing business in NYS.  I work 60 hours or more weekly on the jobsite.  After removing the 37%, my net is $2,268.00 per week, thats over $117,936 bucks per year.  Out of that, I take 10% for my tool depreciation expense which still leaves a nice tidy amount.

Why is this important?  Because for ANYBODY out there who might happen to lose their IT(or whatever) job, or whatever they learn in college, not many jobs pay over 100K/year.  Good experienced carpenters can start out at between 10-20 bucks an hour, depending on skill level and whether or not you show up on time every day, sober and ready to work.  It does make a difference, so get the drunkenness out of your system while in college.  If you can start at 20 (or more) an hour after graduating college, look me up and tell me you did...

OK, you lose your IT job, or menial starting position that just about covers your student loans, and you still have to live, eat, etc...it's doubtful you find a job paying 15 an hour, but you might get lucky.  The more and more of you that get that college education for some "needed" skill, the more of you out there pounding the pavement, the more the starting salary drops down, on the other end of the scale, good carps and tradespeople are going to be at the point of setting their own wages.  Get a backup plan....

I live in a semi rural area and right now I could bump my rates up another 10 bucks or more per hour, for each of my crew and myself and would still be busier than I care to be.  NO unions, no hassles, just good hard rewarding work and a tidy paycheck for each and every one of my guys at weeks end.  You don't need the unions to make a decent living, regardless of what they tell you, the laws today protect the worker, the wages on any jobs involving Federal and State monies are set in stone, and I can guarantee you won't have heart troubles, or be 100 pounds overweight at age 40 and struggling to walk to the coffee machine.

Bottom line is, all this technical stuff is great to learn, but you'd better have a backup plan in the event those jobs are eliminated.  Besides, you might just burnout on the desk job crap and want a change of pace, and it'll probably pay better to boot......

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: danootaandme on 08/11/07 at 6:16 pm


  You don't need the unions to make a decent living, regardless of what they tell you, the laws today protect the worker, the wages on any jobs involving Federal and State monies are set in stone.






Yeah, thanks to unions 

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: loki 13 on 08/11/07 at 8:02 pm


Yeah, thanks to unions 


So true, thank union labor for the prevailing wage.

Another part of the problem is parents don't want their children following in their footsteps. This isn't necessarily
a bad thing; wanting something better for their kids, but it's not a good thing either. As Max has stated, the
the stereotype of the construction worker is dumb and poor and this couldn't be further from the truth so parents
should encourage their kids to be tinkerers.

I was talking to my high school related tech teacher a few month ago and what he told me was disturbing. he said
1 in 10 kids graduating from the CCTS ( Camden County Technical Schools) works in the field they went to school
for. This is a sad fact, what is it about building trades that turns kids away? We've heard from a few people here,
union and nonunion, how much money can be made in the building trades so why are kids no longer interested
in the satisfaction of using their hands, and heads, to actually build something? Further more, what can be done about it?

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: danootaandme on 08/12/07 at 4:30 am


So true, thank union labor for the prevailing wage.

Another part of the problem is parents don't want their children following in their footsteps. This isn't necessarily
a bad thing; wanting something better for their kids, but it's not a good thing either. As Max has stated, the
the stereotype of the construction worker is dumb and poor and this couldn't be further from the truth so parents
should encourage their kids to be tinkerers.

I was talking to my high school related tech teacher a few month ago and what he told me was disturbing. he said
1 in 10 kids graduating from the CCTS ( Camden County Technical Schools) works in the field they went to school
for. This is a sad fact, what is it about building trades that turns kids away? We've heard from a few people here,
union and nonunion, how much money can be made in the building trades so why are kids no longer interested
in the satisfaction of using their hands, and heads, to actually build something? Further more, what can be done about it?


I think many have been taken in with the whole celebrity spiel.  Models, "spokespersons", American Idol, and Donald Trump.  All that take manicured nails.  When they hit about 30-35 they begin to figure it out. That is about the age of people entering in the trades. I'm not sure what can be done about it, except of course showing them a paycheck.  I have actually done that a couple of times and seen the eyes pop out.  But, then you have to explain that one paycheck is just that, it isn't every week, year in year out. It takes a lot of fiscal responsibility to deal with layoffs and some come in expecting more than they are going to get.

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: Airrider on 08/12/07 at 4:16 pm

Very, very true.

I personally plan to get into engineering, and lemme tell ya, perhaps learning things like fabrication (without all the fancy automated equipment too, mind you) would be just as helpful.

A thought...these jobs could become more lucrative the more needed they become.

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: esoxslayer on 08/12/07 at 4:22 pm


Very, very true.

I personally plan to get into engineering, and lemme tell ya, perhaps learning things like fabrication (without all the fancy automated equipment too, mind you) would be just as helpful.

A thought...these jobs could become more lucrative the more needed they become.


Thats the right track..learn the fabrication all the time learning the engineering aspect.  Engineers are a necessity, but too many of them have the book experience only and some of the stuff they design with no consideration given to how to build it or how it goes together is one of the biggest problems today.

I've always thought that an engineer should work as a tradesman for 5 years before he receives his stamp, he'd be a better engineer that way....

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: danootaandme on 08/12/07 at 5:18 pm


Thats the right track..learn the fabrication all the time learning the engineering aspect.  Engineers are a necessity, but too many of them have the book experience only and some of the stuff they design with no consideration given to how to build it or how it goes together is one of the biggest problems today.

I've always thought that an engineer should work as a tradesman for 5 years before he receives his stamp, he'd be a better engineer that way....


Very true.  Also, engineering considerations vary from region to region.  We have buildings in Massachusetts failing because they have engineers designing buildings without considering the weight of snow.  Things like that can spell disaster.  Engineers who just do their work in the classroom do not really have a grasp on the mundane things that can really screw things up, things that people who do the actual work know from....well, doing the actual work.  They can be arrogant in their attitude, not believing that a 30 year worker in the field could possibly know as much as they  ::)

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: Airrider on 08/15/07 at 6:44 pm

Personally, I've learned some hard lessons making things like Mindstorms or toying around with the ol' K'Nex set. Lemme tell ya...even on a small scale, I can see that the six degrees of separation between theory and reality are the biggest damn degrees you'll ever see.

I think I especially wanted to learn fabrication because there's just something about knowing you trust YOUR hands the most with whatever designs you've scribbled down.

Subject: Re: Who is building America?

Written By: Red Ant on 08/15/07 at 7:46 pm


OK...got a little time now so I can respond in the manner I'd like.

Yes, there are not enough (nowhere near enough) tradespeople out there today, especially good ones.  Seems like in times when the economy is poor, anybody who "used" to be something else is now a carpenter.  Hah !!  It's amazing how many "carpenters" out there have no clue what a sliding T-Bevel is for, how to blunt the tip of a finishing nail before you drive it into a piece of hardwood to keep it from splitting, or what "straight tape" is....and I'm talking about guys who are upwards of 35 or so.....

The conversation on the job site the other day was concerning this subject, the lack of todays youth learning a trade or having a hands on skill.  In 20 years from now, tradespeople are going to be able to name their price when they walk onto a job site, and owners are going to pay the price or be run out of business.

A lot of my business comes from people who have grasped the Home Depot (or is it Lowes ??) mentality of "You can do it, we can help"..yeah, right.  Another big portion of my work comes from people who got suckered into taking a cheaper bid, or hiring a "handyman" to tackle a bigger renovation, or new construction project.  They find out real quick that low bid and nice guy don't equate to a quality job, or a 5-6 day workweek, or showing up and finishing a job as promised.

Failure of these "handymen" to look into the project, understand what problems may be encountered and keeping the customer informed before, during and after the project is completed is for the most part non-existent.  Concise written contracts, explaining in detail the job, discussing "schedule of value" parameters, making pay schedules, and even telling in some cases the homeowner to take my contract to their attorney because I have nothing to hide is not there, even with some of the "larger" companies in the area..

Talk to some of these so called experienced carpenters today, and talk to them about sistering floor joists and see the puppy dog cocked head look appear...talk to a drywall finisher about shining a halogen light down the length of a wall or ceiling to make sure the finish is perfect and see the "what are you, crazy??" looks appear also.

For any of you who are either youngsters still in school, or have kids about to hit the age in school where they can go to a vocational school before they graduate, regardless of whether or not college is planned, think about learning a trade.  Why??  Here's why....

I bill my time to the customer at 60 bucks an hour, of which I get to see about $37.80/hour after I take out the 37% I have to to remain in compliance with doing business in NYS.  I work 60 hours or more weekly on the jobsite.  After removing the 37%, my net is $2,268.00 per week, thats over $117,936 bucks per year.  Out of that, I take 10% for my tool depreciation expense which still leaves a nice tidy amount.

Why is this important?  Because for ANYBODY out there who might happen to lose their IT(or whatever) job, or whatever they learn in college, not many jobs pay over 100K/year.  Good experienced carpenters can start out at between 10-20 bucks an hour, depending on skill level and whether or not you show up on time every day, sober and ready to work.  It does make a difference, so get the drunkenness out of your system while in college.  If you can start at 20 (or more) an hour after graduating college, look me up and tell me you did...

OK, you lose your IT job, or menial starting position that just about covers your student loans, and you still have to live, eat, etc...it's doubtful you find a job paying 15 an hour, but you might get lucky.  The more and more of you that get that college education for some "needed" skill, the more of you out there pounding the pavement, the more the starting salary drops down, on the other end of the scale, good carps and tradespeople are going to be at the point of setting their own wages.  Get a backup plan....

I live in a semi rural area and right now I could bump my rates up another 10 bucks or more per hour, for each of my crew and myself and would still be busier than I care to be.  NO unions, no hassles, just good hard rewarding work and a tidy paycheck for each and every one of my guys at weeks end.  You don't need the unions to make a decent living, regardless of what they tell you, the laws today protect the worker, the wages on any jobs involving Federal and State monies are set in stone, and I can guarantee you won't have heart troubles, or be 100 pounds overweight at age 40 and struggling to walk to the coffee machine.

Bottom line is, all this technical stuff is great to learn, but you'd better have a backup plan in the event those jobs are eliminated.  Besides, you might just burnout on the desk job crap and want a change of pace, and it'll probably pay better to boot......




Well said and true.

Ant

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