Hot Under the Blue Collar #9

I just found this on my wall. The original is here. I think it’s important.

Gauthier’s Heating
July 19 at 6:42pm

“Our Family Business of 38 years has ceased doing business. George Gauthier started the heating company at his family farm back in 1977 and it has been running under family ownership since then. We have made numerous attempts to sell the business. Unfortunately, due to the lack of qualified help within the industry, these attempts were unable to materialize. Therefore we only are able to advise people to seek local service providers since they would be the most competitive.

If you had an install this year and have a warranty issue, we will make sure it is taken care of so please feel free to leave a message with any questions or comments. Thank you for your understanding at this time.”

It occurs to me that companies go out of business for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they’re poorly run. Sometimes they get beaten out of existence by the competition. Sometimes they get bought. But more and more, companies like Gauthier Heating are closing up shop because they can’t find qualified people who are willing to do the work.

Right now, within 50 miles of Gauthier Heating, I guarantee there’s an individual who needs a job. This individual is perfectly capable of learning a trade and going to work. But for whatever reason, this individual is not interested in the opportunity at hand. The question is why, and the only possible answers are these.

a) The individual doesn’t know the opportunity exists.
b) The individual has a negative impression of the skilled trades.
c) The individual has hopes and dreams that don’t comport with learning a skilled trade.
d) The individual is currently being supported by someone else, and content to stay that way.

Whatever the reason, one thing is undeniable – a job is not a job until someone actually does it. Before that, it’s just an opportunity. Well, last month, an opportunity existed at Gauthier Heating. And now it doesn’t. Because Gauthier Heating is gone.

Invariably, whenever I post something along these lines, things get political. People rush to tell me the skills gap is a myth. They say that unfilled positions exist because employers are not doing enough to make the opportunity more attractive to a prospective candidate.

These people are not completely incorrect. If Gauthier Heating can’t make money by providing a service that’s in demand, someone else will. But here’s something I’ve noticed. Those who reject the reality of the skills gap are more often than not, the same people who insist that opportunity is dead in America. For these people, the reality of the skills gap is an inconvenient truth. That’s why the skills gap gets so little press – the existence of 5.8 million jobs contradicts the prevailing narrative that unemployment will vanish if we simply “create” more jobs.

Don’t misunderstand – more opportunity is always a good thing. But what about the opportunities that already exist? Why are we obsessed solely on “job creation,” when the immediate problem is “opportunity awareness?” The first order of business, in my opinion, is to raise awareness about the 5.8 million jobs that actually exist, and confront head-on the myths and stereotypes that prevent more people from exploring them.

Here’s my latest attempt to debunk a few misconceptions keeping people out of the skilled trades. Give it a look, and share if you agree with the sentiment.


Mike’s Facebook Page

Metaphoric Toilet & the Widening Skills Gap – Hot Under The Blue Collar, Part 1
Hot Under The Blue Collar, Part 3
Hot Under The Blue Collar, Part 4
Hot Under The Blue Collar, Part 5
Hot Under The Blue Collar Part 6
Hot Under The Blue Collar, Part 7
Hot Under The Blue Collar, Part 8
Hot Under The Blue Collar, Part 10
Hot Under The Blue Collar, Part 12