Transitioning Back to the Trades

Analysts estimate that by 2028 there could be 3 million skilled trades job openings in America. This is a great problem to have with opportunities for high-paying, rewarding jobs. National Skilled Trades Day was created to shed light on these opportunities and to also start a conversation about the problem America faces with not enough workers to fill the roles. We want to talk about the labor shortage problem and highlight some of the positive changes already taking place.

Why The Shortage?

It has become difficult for society to accept that a solid career can stem from anything outside of a college lecture hall. Some of this challenge arose in 1965 with the Federal Family Education Loan Program (Jason Burns, Exploring the Trades). It provided over 60 million Americans the opportunity to attend college but also created a mindset that college was the only option.

Image by Mike Rowe Works

This college recruitment poster that Mike Rowe brought to light, paints a falsely bleak picture of trade jobs while instilling a mantra we still hear today: “Work smart not hard”. This mantra is partially to thank for what Forbes has calculated to be a $1.5 trillion student loan debt crisis and a steep labor shortage. While college is the best path for many people, and the only path for certain careers, it is not the best and only option for everyone.

Thankfully between the looming retirement of the Baby Boomer generation and the labor gap that has already begun, there has been a shift in national awareness for the importance of filling these jobs.

The Shift Back Towards the Trades

National Skilled Trades Day is a great example of the shift towards promoting the trades. This year we celebrate the first official National Skilled Trades Day in America! It came at the effort of City Machine Technologies who wanted to rally national awareness around the great opportunities that skilled trades careers offer and to celebrate the men and women already employed in trades positions.

Generation T is another group that is working to connect people to skilled trades opportunities. Recently launched on April 24th, it is backed by over 60 national companies and aims to bridge the gap between students and hiring companies. Many other companies and organizations provide scholarships, grants, and other opportunities so people can pursue specialized training. The Mike Rowe Works Foundation has provided over $5 million worth of scholarships to over 1,000 people.

Next Steps


  • Provide mentorship and internships to students
  • Visit schools to speak about the opportunities they have
  • Fund scholarships and grants for those going into the trades


  • Talk with your kids about their options in the trades

Anyone interested in a skilled trades career

With all the great jobs available, there has never been a better time to start a skilled trades career!



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