The Case For Skilled Trades…..

We fell in love with our home the first day we saw it. The realtor had saved this home as the last of three we were to look at on the fourth day of looking in Springfield, Mo. I saw a very nice brick home, three years old, with all the essential elements in place. Sharon saw a newer home that needed a few “touches” to bring it into line with her preferences in what may be the last home we own. It should be noted that I am an Army brat, and spent my formative years in military “quarters” located all around the world. Brats understand going in that your home will be a cookie cutter, one size fits all proposition. Not so outside the installation gate where you have many housing options. Our decision to “make a few changes” have introduced us to a variety of skilled tradesmen and women, which in turn has prompted this writing.

Trades folks

First, I should address the elephant in the room. I have always believed that higher education serves to enhance the minds of motivated students who are goal oriented beyond the degree itself. Put another way, our colleges are graduating more than a few student who will have a degree and that is about it. Their majors will be all over the map in terms of practical usefulness thus guaranteeing incomes that fall below the expectations of reward that accompanies four years of study. There is plenty of room and considerable demand for folks who are trained, call it educated, in a skilled trade. I might add these folks are, in many cases, reaping a financial reward that makes the college graduate with a degree in music appreciation envious. I disrespect no one, rather, I suggest there is much satisfaction to be had, financial and otherwise, by those who are skilled tradesmen.

Our desire to customize our home has brought us in contact with extremely skilled carpenters, electricians, plumbers, security experts, welders, concrete and granite masons as well as design specialists. Each of the trades people that have contributed to our improvements proved to be professional, courteous, and exceedingly competent. They were all well compensated for their efforts and we could not be more pleased with the result. The wizardry of the electricians alone was truly impressive as they routed electricity to places it should have been in the first place and re-routed potential house burning attempts at saving a few dollars by the original home owners. The tradesmen and women who contributed to our customization are a credit to their professions and our debt to them is much deeper than a check for their services.

When I retired from a long career as a state trooper, I accepted the reality that my skill set was not particularly in demand outside of policing. I immediately gained employment with a general contractor, believing that everyone should have some degree of marketable skill with his hands. I worked for ten dollars an hour with the understanding that I would be exposed to the building of a house from the dig to handing the keys to the owner. I paid close attention and turned this education into a nice, over-built home overlooking Truman Lake. We carefully designed and built this home that we later sold for a handsome profit. It was an immensely satisfying project that could not have been accomplished without the assistance of the many skilled craftsmen that we brought in to guarantee the integrity of the build. Now for the take away here.

There’s is room in our complicated economy for all kinds of folks who are willing to work and learn. It is unwise to look down your nose at carpenters, barbers, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, painters, heavy equipment operators, machinists, concrete masons, HVAC technicians, welders and the agricultural trades. Few folks, degree or not, employ the use of mathematics more than many of these trades people do. My hat is off to folks who are good at anything and willing to work towards excellence. A disgraced politician once quipped that “it takes a village” (to make America work). She got this right…….

Enjoy the sunshine today!


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