The construction trade programs in our local high schools and technical schools are exploding with student growth and interest as young people are realizing that college is not for everyone and great career opportunities exist with construction-related skillsets. The writing is on the wall as technology will eliminate millions of jobs in manufacturing, retail and service-related industries over the next decade. Good college degree jobs in offices that exist today will be gone tomorrow — just ask people in the banking industry. Young people are seeing the future clearly and understand career paths are changing.
There are now construction academies in Lake and Sumter Counties — at Leesburg High School, Eustis High School, South Lake High School and The Villages Charter High School. There are over 300 students enrolled in these programs, and two of these academies (Leesburg and The Villages) are building homes for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
Lake Tech is growing each semester with technical training in construction-related fields, and they are seeing continued growth in students and industry needs. Apprenticeship programs are springing up throughout Central Florida with groups like iBuild Central Florida laying the foundation for huge growth in training.
For any young person who is undecided whether to pursue a career in the construction trades or go to college, allow me to make the case for pursuing a career in the construction trades.
- Most skilled craftspeople earn more than most people who have a college degree. Even entry-level workers in the construction industry have an opportunity to earn more than most liberal arts majors leaving a university. Master craftspeople can easily earn more than those who have a Ph.D.
- Once you become a skilled craftsperson and you have your own tools, you become recession proof. Sure, the economy could falter and building slow down again. However, skilled craftspeople can always find work doing repairs for homeowners and businesses. If you have the skills, tools and ambition — you can always find work to put food on the table.
- No student debt is required. The high school construction academies are free, Lake Tech is stunningly affordable and many companies offer scholarships for training. There is over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, which will bury a generation. The tradespeople will be the ones buying homes and fixing them up in the future because they will make more money and have less debt.
- Jobs where you sit at a desk have been deemed worse than smoking. Tradespeople are more active and fit, which leads to a healthier and longer life. Most tradespeople don’t need to invest in a gym to stay healthy.
- You will save a lot of money during your lifetime by doing your own work. Unlike many millennials who lack the skillsets when it comes to construction, most tradespeople do their own work and skip the $75-$100 per hour labor charges.
- You can easily find work in other areas of the country and no two jobs are alike. Just imagine working a different job every month instead of sitting behind the same desk and working in the same office for years. That’s called workplace freedom.
- It is easier to own a business in the construction trades. This is the one area of American life where entrepreneurship is alive and well. If you work hard and have the skills, you can start a company and be your own boss.
- Finally, you will always have people wanting you to help them with projects, and a lot of great relationships start with installing shelving.
Although career decisions are hard to make, nowadays students are deciding that real opportunities exist in the construction trades. Before making any decision on your career, talk to your school’s guidance counselor or education specialist as well as leaders in the construction industry. Construction offers a great path for students who don’t want to go to college or get in debt.
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply. He is also the host of the Around the House TV show on LSTV and LakeSumterTV.com at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and at 7 a.m., Noon and 6 p.m. Saturday.