While young adults have interest in the skilled trades, recognizing the flexibility and security of construction jobs, there is a lack of training, mentoring, and support to help interested individuals pursue these careers, according to a survey conducted by Thumbtack.
Forty-seven percent of adults ages 18 to 30 surveyed by Thumbtack are interested in pursuing careers, citing independence, flexibility, and the possibility for self-employment. Additionally, over 80% of respondents cited faster educational programs, less expensive education, less debt, quicker entry into the workforce, and the ability to be your own boss as advantages a career in skilled trades has over a desk job, according to the survey.
The financial component of careers in the trades is also appealing to young adults, with financial security ranking as the most important factor in career choice for 70% of respondents. Beyond money, young adults also cited wanting a career they could take pride in; only careers in medicine would command respect from more respondents than skilled trades, according to the Thumbtack survey.
The outlook and opinions of young adults about skilled trades careers were complemented by results from a supplemental survey of Thumbtack pros. Nearly 90% of skilled trades workers reported being happy with their jobs and said they would choose the same career again, while 94% of Thumbtack pros said they would encourage their own children or family members to pursue a skilled trade. Additionally, more than 90% of skilled trades respondents are optimistic about job security, the potential to make more money, career growth opportunities, and the ability to learn new skills in their field.
However, an overlap between the two surveys is the concern that training, recruitment, and education surrounding skilled trades careers are insufficient. More than half of Thumbtack pros said they are concerned about the sector’s ability to attract and retain skilled workers and that future generations won’t pursue these careers.
Among the survey for young adults ages 18 to 30, 82% of respondents reported children and teens are told that college is the only way to become successful, and 59% expressed feeling pressured to attend a four-year college or university. Approximately two-thirds of young adults who graduated from college expressed regrets about the investment, and 83% of respondents said they feel that learning a skilled trade can be a better pathway to economic security than a college degree.
Nearly one-third of young adults were not offered shop class in high school; however, nearly 90% of respondents who were offered the class said it was one of their favorite courses. A study conducted by Education Next estimates the number of vocational credits earned by high school students dropped by 14% between 1990 and 2009.
As a method of introducing skilled trades careers earlier in the education cycle, 85% of respondents said they believe high schools should do more to tell students about alternative job pathways, such as trade schools and apprenticeships, and 90% said they think increased funding to make trade schools and apprenticeships more available and affordable would be beneficial. Over half the respondents in both of Thumbtack's survey believe providing better access to information and education about skilled trades careers can help attract the future workforce.
The young adult survey generated responses from 1,000 individuals ages 18 to 30, while the trade professional survey generated responses from 837 skilled trades professionals on the Thumbtack platform.