Introducing The Next Generation Of Tradespeople To The Skilled Trades

A joint partnership between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Lowe's gives students a life changing immersion into the skilled trades and an experience they'll never forget.

Gen T

What We Told Charlotte Mecklenburg Students About the Skilled Trades Industries

All paths to prosperity come through education. The challenge of course, is few people understand that pursuing a career in the skilled trades requires an on-the-job education. So, historically, this was done informally. In the past, you’d shadow your dad or uncle during the summer to pick up a few bucks. Maybe you had a friend of a friend who’d give you a break hauling lumber onto the site while the skilled workers would lay flooring.

In October 2018 we changed that. Recently, Lowe’s and its installation partners immersed 70 Charlotte Mecklenburg high school seniors in flooring, tiling, framing and appliance repair. The intent was simple: illuminate the 3 million paths that exist in the skilled trades industry.

“I didn’t know, but I’m definitely considering this (opportunities in the skilled trades),” one 17-year-old senior told me.

No words could be fonder to Lowe’s, CMS, Associated General Contractors of the Carolinas, Service Pro Flooring, Skills USA, Advanced Appliance, Lakeside Heating and Air and HVAC.

In the spirit of an immersion, we implemented learning that would be kinesthetic, auditory and visual.

What We Told Them

You cannot predict the future, but there are certain knowns with each generation. For example, if you aggregate the growing U.S. population, the aging of society, an aging U.S. infrastructure in dire repair (estimated to be $4 trillion), more people moving to cities (50 cities expected to exceed 1 million population by 2028, compared to 10 in 2018) and the declining numbers of those pursuing skilled trades careers after high school (a mere 5%), you can make a compelling case that you can have very safe, lucrative career as a carpenter, appliance repair technician, electrician, plumber, mason, bricklayer, welder or floor installer.

For example, according to the U.S. Census Board, about 9 percent of American millionaires are skilled trades people as of 2018.

What We Showed Them

“Laying tile is like a puzzle,” said one student. Ten CMS students looked on, observing as the tile guys spread mastic on backer board. Sun pierced through the 10-foot tall windows, creating a shadow between the students and the instructors. A nail gun punctured the chatter in the room as each station featured an instructor and about 8 to 10 students looking on, working with vol meters, trowels, hammer guns. Outside, the framing station, Hunter MacFarland of Lowe’s Home Improvement, had some female students using a nail gun to secure 12-foot 2x4s. By the end, Hunter and team had constructed a wall.

Make no mistake: Students were not checked out, nor were they simply going through the motions. This was a critical insight because, according to 2018 Lowe’s primary research, 62% of parents of high school students find it valuable to have their child exposed to different career options when deciding on a career.

You know that means? We need to help bring shop class back and start doing more tours of construction facilities nationwide. The basics.

You see this issue does not stand alone. While there are potentially millions of high-growth opportunities available to young Americans, the labor shortage will also affect another socio-economic issue: affordable housing. The lack of people willing to work on homes could add a 5 to 10% cost of new homes, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

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What Is Next

Lowe’s is working with its installation partner companies and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools to help provide paid on-the-job high school internships. This means, for several hours a week, students will travel to jobsites (courtesy of public transportation vouchers provided by the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Foundation) and learn what it takes to be a technician, an installer, a plumber, a carpenter or an electrician.

How You Can Play a Role

Share this post with your friends on LinkedIn. There are 3 million job opportunities in this space over the next decade. Imagine if you can change your life or someone you love, but just pointing them toward Generation T.

After all, we may have already influenced 65 lives.

Take the Assesment

3 months ago, in Generation T News by Jason Burns
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