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Bring Back the Trades

Bring Back the Trades

BY DOUG WINSTON


I thought I would touch on a topic today that’s a little different than my typical skilled trades advocacy for our young men and women.

For at least the last 20 years, I’ve been participating in new apprentice interviews for the electrical industry. Over the years, we’ve seen a shift in demographics with more female and minority candidates taking interest in the skilled trades. 


Another thing that’s been more prevalent the last decade or so is the influx of people “starting over”. typically, typically people who have firmly established themselves in careers that either they hate or are no longer viable for a multitude of reasons. As you might expect, there are some interesting stories.

Our panel will review applications, school transcripts and resumes. Occasionally we will stare at documents that just don’t seem too “fit” the job description of an electrician’s apprentice.

One candidate presented a resume showing he was the owner of a potato chip route for a decade. In addition, he had a college degree and previously worked in the retail grocery sector. After going through the usual discussion of job requirements, apprentice classes and salary (which was going to be a huge cut in pay), we finally stopped beating around the bush and asked him flat out why he was applying for entry level position after owning his own business for nearly a decade.


It turned out that his potato chip route, despite being lucrative, was in a very bad neighborhood. He was recently carjacked, beaten, robbed and left tied up in the back of his truck for an extended period. He stated that it was no longer worth the risk, and he had the means financially to make a change in his life to something that interested him. The committee all agreed he was an excellent candidate.

Recently we had a similar situation with a candidate who was a corrections officer for many years. We read her application, saw her experience and wondered why she wanted to leave a good career with seniority. “Let’s ask her”. She came in and detailed for us the dangerous conditions she experienced during COVID.


A shortage of officer’s would leave her and one other male officer alone with many inmates for periods of up to 24 hours at a time. She finally decided it was just too unsafe. She went on to tell us that she had quit her job as a CO and was working as a construction laborer for the last year. The committee all agreed she was an excellent candidate and scored her interview highly.

It’s never too late to reinvent yourself and find a career that makes you love going to work each day. Skilled trades are an excellent career for those who enjoy creating things out of nothing, working with their hands and solving problems. Bring Back the Trades, Inc provides career counseling, career fairs, job & apprenticeship placement assistance as well as scholarships to those seeking to attend trade schools.

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