The Great Labor Shortage

Josh L
3 min readFeb 22, 2022


America is headed for trouble. Why do people ignore trade school?

Photo by leah hetteberg on Unsplash

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of someone working in the trades is 55.

This number shocks me. There are a lot more blue-collar workers retiring than are joining the force. Because of this, many are worried there won’t be enough tradesmen in the future.

It got me thinking.

I know that it’s true. Almost everyone goes the college route. If that doesn’t work, they try to work from home or start a business.

The rise in popularity of non-fungible tokens is growing by the day. Everyone and their blind great-grandmother trade crypto and Board Apes.

With all the hoopla surrounding ways to make money, few ever bring up going into the trades. Nowadays, all the money-making schemes are born online.

Do people in the trades make no money? Is the work that much harder that people don’t want any part of it? Is it the fact that working from home gives you more freedom?

It can be argued that all of these reasons play a role in why no one wants to work in manual labor anymore. I know some tradesmen can make good money, but is it worth it?

One thing is for sure. More people need to choose this career path or we will be in trouble. Imagine a world with no electricians or plumbers.

We often take these jobs for granted, but they have an incredible impact on our day-to-day lives. People need to work in these jobs and these jobs need to provide a good life for them.

83% of people are satisfied with their job in the trades. It makes sense. Working with your hands and being able to see all the work you’ve done at the end of the day is rewarding.

almost no white-collar jobs are like it. Building apps or writing code all day in front of the computer is not as satisfying as building a house or wiring up a new home.

Still, the trade shortage in America is real.

Why is this?

One reason could be is the groupthink that many people have. In high school, we watch almost all our friends go off to college and have college announcement parties.

They share the excitement when they get a new acceptance letter in the mail. It is one of the most exciting times in high school. This makes others want the same thing.

Then they hear their older friend’s party stories. They go up for a weekend or two and immediacy fall in love with the school. Their decision is pretty much made at that point.

The local electrician looking for an apprentice stands no chance.

I’m not a big fan of college. Even though I’m in a Zoom class as I type this, I know having a degree doesn’t mean much.

You can read more about how I feel about school here. It’s quite the rant, so buckle up.

I am in college because I am lucky enough to not have to worry about paying tuition. Another reason is I’m one year away from my degree. I’d have to start all over in the trades.

But to be transparent with you, the biggest reason I’m finishing school is because it seems like the safer option. I hate the fact that I think like this, but it’s difficult to walk away from school and go a different path.

If I knew in high school what I know now, I would have gone to trade school from the beginning.

You can learn an actual skill that can make money and have a legitimate skill for the rest of your life. It’s not like getting a degree in some meaningless field.

Working in manual labor will teach you a lot. I envy people who can work with their hands and know how to fix stuff. It’s just plain cool.

If you’re a blue-collar worker, let me know why you think there’s a trade shortage. If you agree with some of the reasons I said, let me know.

If I got it all wrong, let me know that too.

Next time you hear someone express interest in doing something other than college, encourage them. Don’t bash them and tell them college is the only way to go.

We need people in the trades now more than ever.