This article has been a long time coming as it touches home for me and many of my friends who own businesses. When I started my automotive business I always knew I wanted to work with my hands. Coming from a baseball background I have never been one to shy away from the hard work that building something great required. It has always been the intellectual abilities of doing paperwork and keeping book records that have plagued me. They don’t give me trouble in the sense that I am incapable of doing what is required, but more the fact that I’d rather be active than sitting at a desk on a computer.
It has always intrigued me the way different minds operate. We truly are all individuals with our own thoughts and capabilities. Originality is what helps each of us to become the people we are. For some, this means we become accountants and corporate workers, while others are technicians and electricians. It is this independence that drives our world. Everyone fits together and no one job or person is more important than another. For example, Bill Gates gives us technology and this computer I’m typing on right now, and yet if his pipes burst in his house, a plumber would be the most important man in the world to him. This synergy builds what we see today.
Within each article I ask you to ponder a question, to deeply visualize the impacts of what I am asking, and to ask yourself how this is affecting your situation. The question I have today is, “What would the world be like without manual labor jobs?” It was only after reading LinkedIn’s “Top 50 companies the US wants to work for” that empowered me to explore this topic. While I shouldn’t be surprised I ended up awe-struck at the shear fact every single company on this list was a corporate technology company.
Reflecting on my question, I started to dig deeper into this issue. In today’s economy, jobs are beyond plentiful. Contrary to what some studies show, there are more jobs than people willing to fill the positions. So what jobs am I talking about? The blue collar jobs, the manual labor jobs to be exact. To name a few, technicians, plumbers, electricians, pavers, machinists, the list goes on and on. Jobs that I consider the backbone of America could one day become forgotten, a lost art, if I must say.
Listening to the news, we see a push for free or cheaper college education. We have derived this preconceived notion that if you don’t go to college then you won’t get a good job. To an extent this is true, but we must realize that not everyone is built the same way. Just because millions of people use the iPhone doesn’t mean they think or act the exact same way. It seems from a societal standpoint we have cast a shadow over the blue collar community.
To shed light on the current situation in these industries, I use real life examples from my conversations with business owners. My neighbor next to my shop owned a plumbing company that he couldn’t find the right employees to hire; whether incompetent, lazy, or people that just don’t want to be a plumber. Throughout the industry this issue has been a plague for years. With this shortage, jobs have increased as building in Pennsylvania hasn’t stopped. Owning the company for 30 years, this neighbor for the first time in his career is booked out 5 years in advance. The effects of the shortage are already being seen as companies are holding off building to wait for these services. This in turn is slowing growth throughout the economy.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling everyone to drop out of school and become a plumber. What I am trying to show is that these jobs are being phased out. As the last of these skilled workers enter retirement, who knows what other industries could have shortfalls with the number of skilled workers. We will not only be losing the last line of apprentices, but it could affect the rest of our jobs as well. In a previous article I wrote called “Business End-Game,” I discuss how 80% of privately held businesses liquidate their doors and close down. In a market hard enough to sell a business, these owners stand no chance transferring their talents and businesses in the future if we continue to deplete manual labor jobs. While we pursue our desire to become the most technologically advanced country, we must not forget all of those who “literally” keep our lights on and power our economy.
Jon Gyles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org