How To Become A Skilled Trade Worker In The New Economy

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail

– Benjamin Franklin

The Great Recession that rocked the nation’s blue-collar workforce has been showing signs of recovery. Will you be ready when blue collar jobs start coming back? Being prepared to get a construction or industrial job in 2013 will require more from you than ever before. These are my top 5 tips to enter or re-enter the skilled trades workforce:

  1. Get an education beyond high school. Even though this may not be a requirement to enter into most blue-collar jobs, having an AA or some college credits will increase your chances of landing a good job or being accepted into a union apprenticeship program.
  2. Go where the work is. No one wants to move away from family and friends, but in today’s economy it may be essential.
  3. Get proactive. The competition for these new jobs will be fierce. You need to utilize all your resources, both personally and professionally to help land a good job.
  4. Be flexible. A lot of the new jobs that are coming will be temporary or part-time. Especially in the non-union sectors. Think long term.
  5. Work Hard. One thing that keeps a lot of people from being a success is work. – Unknown Remember that you’re a blue-collar worker, and that means that every day you need to produce. If you have the mind set that you will work harder than the guy next to you, you will be successful.

I’m well on my way to becoming an old-timer and I’ve seen more than my fair share of failures and bad economic times. In my time I have done all five of these things myself, and I can say that being prepared and having a good game plan is the best way to stay at the front of the pack.

For example, I have been a Journeyman tile setter with the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers for 10 years. But before that I had to work many non-union jobs, in the tile industry and elsewhere. I have also been “on the road,” as it’s referred to in the trade, moving 5 or 6 times in as many years to follow work. I have pretty much resigned myself to go where the jobs are available.

On the issue of hard work, man I’ve been there, done that. Even now when I got hired on to a new project through my union local, there are times I don’t really know all of the people I’m working for. If you’re working for a new company, and you’re the new guy, boy you better be willing to put in a good days work every day.

Along the way and today, I have been educating myself to the best of my abilities. Attending community college helped me land more than a few good jobs and attending school now to complete my BA will help me in the future. Always be focused on learning and perfecting your specific trade.

These are just a few tips on how to be successful in the blue-collar world. Of course, nothing is guaranteed and situations change with every employer. As long as you work hard, and work smart, your chances of getting hired in the new economy will be better than ever.