Construction jobs & This Old House

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Old 11-13-16, 03:06 PM
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Construction jobs & This Old House

This Old House took about 10 minutes to tell their viewers that millions of construction jobs are not being filled because most parents are sending their children to college for 4 year degrees. They also said that the show would be used to help fill those jobs.

I haven't researched it yet but some thoughts came to mind. The first is that the 4.9% unemployment number & any other number that the government provides is bogus. It's closer to 25% which I knew before Trump said it. There should be plenty of people to hire even if the 40 people in front of every Home Depot aren't included.

That brings me to the next point. The timing of that announcement is too close to the Trump win to be coincidental. Is PBS trying to prevent the deportation of millions?

Something doesn't sound right. What do you think?
 
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Old 11-13-16, 03:12 PM
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Don't forget that in addition to the unemployed, you have the unemployable.
 
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Old 11-13-16, 04:11 PM
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I don't know what the government states the unemployment rate is nor do I know what the REAL rate may be. I DO know that the "official" rate of inflation is bogus because I go to the grocery store on a regular basis.

As for the lack of people entering the construction trades...it is true. The cause is complex but part of it is that "working with your hands" has been looked down upon for at least the last forty years. Construction (or repair) is what you do if you are too stupid or too lazy to get a college degree.

Never mind that construction pays REAL money, I saw an ad nailed to a utility pole a few weeks ago looking for skilled electricians and the wage was $47 an hour plus benefits. Construction and repair jobs cause you to get your hands dirty and therefore couldn't possibly be as good as a "desk" job even though the desk job barely pays $20 an hour, if that.

Back when I was in school, I graduated from high school in 1968, we had "shop" classes in metal working, wood working, graphic arts, auto mechanics, electricity and the like. They weren't much but at least a person was exposed to the different trades. They had advanced courses at the local trade schools which were eventually folded into the community college system. There have always been union apprentice programs as well but the mere mention of labor unions these days is often enough to cause a person to stop listening to anything you might say.

Even the parents that ARE working in the trades have a tendency to discount such work, telling their children that they MUST go to college or else they will end up as their old man, as if the work he does is without meaning. Even my own father told me that if I had ever shown the slightest tendency to wanting to become a painter he would have cheerfully broken both my arms. As it was, shortly before his death he told me he was disappointed that I hadn't gone into electronics (with at least a Master's degree) but he guessed that I had done okay in my chosen field.

I was talking with my sister's son a few weeks ago and he told me about his "adopted little brother" and how A had taken the easy road into drug dealing. I said to Chris that I just couldn't understand the fascination with drugs and he told me that it is all but impossible for a young person (A is in his late teens or very early twenties) to stay clear. A told Chris there was nowhere else that he could make the kind of money he does dealing drugs, especially without any particular job skills. Chris told A that he had heard the word on the street that A is one of the most hated persons in the area and that if he didn't change his ways he would likely be dead inside of a year. As it was, he was in the legal system and being given a choice of incarceration or rehabilitation, including counseling. He wasn't at all happy about the counseling but from what Chris told me a few days later A accepted it as better than the alternative.

I remember many years ago when I worked for local government. This was in the 1970s and we had a program called SYEP; Summer Youth Employment Program. These were mostly "make work" jobs for "at risk" (read, minority) youths during the summer. For the most part the jobs were at best semi-skilled but the whole idea was to get the kids used to getting up in the morning, going to the job, putting in eight hours and only then going home. Each kid had a "counselor" that would check with them at least once a week to ask how they were doing, if they had any questions, collect time sheets and such. Invariably the one thing brought up most often was, "Why can't I have a desk job?"

At one place the counselor asked the job foreman the same question and the foreman replied, "Lady, there is only ONE desk job in this place and I am not giving it up." At another job the kid was rebelling because the foreman had given his a dirty messy job. Never mind that each and every person on this job site took their turn doing this dirty messy job and it was just his turn, he felt he shouldn't have to do it. The counselor asked the foreman, "Don't you have any MEANINGFUL work for him to do?" This time the answer was, "Well, lady, I have a ditch that needs to be dug, would that satisfy him?" Of course the counselor was mortified and said he was supposed to be giving the kid training. Carl responded to that stating, "I am giving him the best training in the world. I am teaching him to work eight hours a day at a job he doesn't like!"

But these days you can't say or do things like that. A large majority of people, young or not-so-young, just simply do not want to work. They put so many conditions on any job they may qualify for that it is no wonder the employers refuse to hire them. Recently the City of Seattle passed an ordinance stating that employers MUST provide a schedule a minimum of two weeks in advance for every employee, full or part time. Heck, when I retired, from a UNION job, I could have my schedule changed mere minutes before quitting time.

I'll end this tirade by stating it will get worse, a lot worse, before it gets any better.
 
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Old 11-13-16, 04:18 PM
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I think that Mike Rowe is also involved in some way. I caught the last few seconds of a discussion between Rowe and Norm Abrams on TOH about the lack of skilled labor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cC0JPs-rcF0 Hope you have the time to listen to this. Mike Rowe is my hero.
 
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Old 11-13-16, 04:26 PM
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There should be plenty of people to hire even if the 40 people in front of every Home Depot aren't included.
Unfortunately there aren't too many people to hire that can satisfy a demanding customer who's paying good money (or any money) to have a job done correctly.
To find these people and pay them costs money, the highly skilled/trusted cost a lot.
I think what the show is saying is a young person should consider being a contractor.
If you like doing the work you could be at least comfortable with your income, some people who are good at business make it far. Either way, you have some freedom.
 
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Old 11-13-16, 04:38 PM
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Furd, Your first half of the post I could swear was written by me! The trades jobs are wanting for people. Another part of the problem is that today's kids want it all at the beginning. So a tradesman training (journeyman phase) you don't get the big bucks. That don't sit right for many people. And the schools dropped many shop classes.

I wince at the price electricians and plumbers want, but I understand. Their know how is priceless. What bugs me is auto mechanics. The shops charge an arm and a leg, but the grease monkey doing the skilled and knowledgeable work does not get paid fairly and must get the job done in certain amount of time or they get penalized.
 
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Old 11-13-16, 04:57 PM
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What bugs me is auto mechanics. The shops charge an arm and a leg, but the grease monkey doing the skilled and knowledgeable work does not get paid fairly...
Mechanics around my area are not paid too badly but yes, the shops DO charge extremely high rates compared to what the mechanic receives. My local (insert big tire company name) service center charges $124 an hour (or did a few years ago) but the mechanics get maybe $35 to $40. an hour. That wouldn't be outrageous but they ALSO charge for "shop supplies" and hazardous waste disposal over and above the hourly rate as well as high retail prices for parts. I wouldn't even complain about that but the charges aren't actual costs but a simple percentage addition to the total bill of parts and labor.

I had an experience several years ago that really bent my crank. My girlfriend at the time had taken her 1987 Camry in for some warranty work and also because the automatic seat belt would no longer retract. When we went to pick it up they charged us (as I recall) two hours of diagnostic labor for the seat belt problem. The service manager admitted he had the apprentice doing the work and almost begged us to let the kid continue working on it, stating he should be able to find the problem in another hour or so. I refused and told him I wasn't about to pay JOURNEYMAN mechanic prices for an apprentice who obviously didn't have a clue as to how to troubleshoot the problem to stumble along hoping for a breakthrough. If I had had a shop in which to work, rather than just a wet. drafty carport, I could have found the source of the problem myself in less than thirty minutes. That he had let the kid play with it for two hours with no resolution was unthinkable in my mind.
 
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Old 11-13-16, 05:05 PM
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Every contractor I work with complains about how hard it is to get good help. If you follow the trade publications there have been lots of stories about the problem.

There are lots of contributing factors:

Certainly there has been too much emphasis put on college for everyone. Some are just not cut out for it, and going to college when you don't have the stuff, don't know what you want to do, and aren't motivated to work hard at it, is bad for the person and bad for the school.

But there are a lot of overbearing, helicopter parents out there who won't hear of anything less than college for their kids, whether or not it is the right thing or not.

Schools have been eliminating trade education programs for many years. Partly to save money, partly because demand for the courses was down.

Many companies want only people with experience. They don't want to take the time and spend the money to train people. Many times this is because when they do, the person leaves after a short time because that's the easiest way to bump up their pay.

I always advise my nieces and nephews to consider a career in the trades. For one thing, it's one of the few career areas where it's difficult to send the work to some low wage country. The pay is decent if you're a hard worker and there are opportunities for advancement.
 
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Old 11-13-16, 05:21 PM
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I have a friend that runs a school to teach boiler operation and maintenance. The classes are specifically designed to have the student pass the City of Seattle boiler fireman or steam engineer license examination. Lilly is a licensed engineer and has been doing this for more than twenty years.

She tells me that the knowledge part of the exam has been "dumbed down" over the years to the point where an applicant no longer needs to draw a sketch of a typical boiler with all the parts labeled but is now given a drawing with all the parts numbered and a list of the names of the parts so all that needs to be done is match the part with the name. The essay questions have been eliminated as have much of the multiple choice questions, leaving mostly true-false questions.

Her classes are often half-filled with people to whom English is a second language. She tells them that they MUST read the textbook and the handouts or they will be lost. She tells them they MUST come to the class every week (it is held on Saturdays for eight hour sessions including a lunch break) or they will NOT learn enough to pass the exam.

But they routinely come late, leave early and then complain when they don't pass the examination. All they want is the license so they can get a decent paying job and then relax. They simply do NOT want to work.
 
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Old 11-13-16, 05:59 PM
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I said it was hard to find good workers, however for $70 - $120 per hour, I could find someone to perform work I don't want to do and have confidence in them. The key word is confidence in the job.
This should be good news for young people I think. You won't make this money every hour or everyday but it shows you what is possible if you learn.
If the schools aren't teaching shop, I would advise focus on geometry, fractions and decimals, and buy some tools.
Nursing is good also and I think secure. I know several young people I'm trying to convince to be a nurse.
 
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Old 11-13-16, 06:02 PM
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Certainly there has been too much emphasis put on college for everyone. Some are just not cut out for it, and going to college when you don't have the stuff, don't know what you want to do, and aren't motivated to work hard at it, is bad for the person and bad for the school.
It's my contention that a 2 year technical school should be mandatory prior to a person going to a BS degree's program for just the reasons you mentioned. With my younger son that is what we convinced him to do. Alfred Tech in Central New York offered a two year degree program that was fully transferable to their four year BS degree program. After two years he liked it and went on to get his engineering degree. And the fact that he also has a two year degree looks good on his resume.

Many companies want only people with experience. They don't want to take the time and spend the money to train people. Many times this is because when they do, the person leaves after a short time because that's the easiest way to bump up their pay.
This unfortunately is very true in all areas of job, trades and professional.

they routinely come late, leave early and then complain when they don't pass the examination. All they want is the license so they can get a decent paying job and then relax. They simply do NOT want to work.
The same story all too often from many areas. My veterinarian daughter is disgusted with the new vets that get hired. They don't want to put in the hours or learn the techniques of surgery, but yet complain about not getting better pay. Also they think cleaning the kennels is beneath them. Yet my daughter does it routinely.
 
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Old 11-13-16, 06:16 PM
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My wife was a nurse, then a midwife, and now teaches nursing students. I have 6 or 8 other nurses in the family. The jobs outside of hospitals and similar facilities don't pay that well, but there is no shift work and the work load is generally manageable. Hospital work pays better, sometimes a lot better, but there are usually rotating shifts and in some departments (like the ER) the workload can be crushing.

So it can be a good career, but you have to have the desire to work with people and help them or the job will eat you alive. People that go in to it for the money and don't get satisfaction from working with people and trying to help them generally leave the field quickly.

AND...you need the ability to deal frequently with difficult people. Hardly anyone is at their best when they are in the hospital, and some people are truly monstrous. Me, I'd probably choke the you know what out of somebody the first day.
 
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Old 11-14-16, 03:14 AM
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cwbuff, Mike Rowe answered a lot of questions. I'm glad that you posted that clip.

Furd, you mentioned SYEP. There is another program called FedCap. When I was the foreman of a cleaning contractor, the company sent FedCap trained people to replace workers on vacation. They were better than some of the union workers. Some years later, I was fixing a damaged bathroom, in a house. The owner was a consultant for the Board of Ed, NYC. His job was to facilitate discharging students who had no hope, in high school. I said, you send them to FedCap.
He had no idea what it was. That's a huge disconnect, in the system.

Another huge disconnect is there is no more on the job training. As long as employers demand experience on the first day, the shortage will continue.
 
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Old 11-14-16, 03:36 AM
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Wow, I must live in a low wage area ..... but then we also have a lower than average cost of living

It is difficult to find good help! I had various employees over the years as a small painting contractor. Probably the best employee I had [other than my son] was a young girl that I mostly hired as a favor for her husband. She didn't have much experience but was conscientious, worked hard and caught on fast with a little instruction. Every journeyman painter I hired had issues either they weren't very good, had a poor work ethic or weren't reliable ..... and all expected to make more than me while doing less work.

I believe the biggest reason for a shortage of decent tradesmen is the lack of youth that are willing to work hard and learn the trade. Seems like so many are more focused on the pay than doing the work. Granted we all do it for the money but you have to have an interest in learning/doing the job right!

It does help for the person to be suited for the job. I've always enjoyed painting and have never been scared of hard work ..... although I'm no longer very good at it My wife is a caregiver and it suits her well. She took care of one lady that would mess her diaper, them pull the mess out and smear it everywhere My wife acts like it's no big deal to put on rubber gloves and start cleaning the lady [and bed] up. Me, if I couldn't crank up the pressure washer .........

I agree college isn't for everyone and that trade schools are probably under utilized. I left home when I was 16 yrs old. I only stayed in school because it had been drummed into my head that anyone without a high school diploma couldn't earn a decent wage. As it turns out I've never had a job where my diploma was required - BUT I would never encourage a young person to drop out of school!!!
 
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Old 11-14-16, 04:42 AM
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We do not have a shortage of workers, We have a shortage of people WILLING to work. I think all people wanting welfare should go to a work center and punch in like a job to collect. I know many problems with this.
Many years ago was listening to radio and they said one of reasons they had generations of welfare people was they did not know how to go to work on time.
 
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Old 11-14-16, 05:39 AM
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I believe the biggest reason for a shortage of decent tradesmen is the lack of youth that are willing to work hard and learn the trade.
pugsl
We do not have a shortage of workers, We have a shortage of people WILLING to work. I think all people wanting welfare should go to a work center and punch in like a job to collect.
I guess that you guys are talking about the American youth because the illegals are willing to work hard & learn the job. They don't have a social security # nor money to go to school & no one who will train them. They can't collect welfare either without a SSN not to mention that if you saw a welfare check, you would wonder how someone could live on that little bit of money.

If what TOH & Rob Lowe said is true, on the job training should be subsidized. That would be the best form of welfare.
 
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Old 11-14-16, 05:44 AM
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There used to be a gov't program that subsidized job training. I think it was called CETA. Way back when I applied for a painting job thru CETA that paid $4 an hour because it was a dollar more than any paint contractors were paying. I was told I couldn't apply for that job because I had too much experience. Apparently the gov't was willing to subsidize $4 an hour to learn how to earn $3 an hour
 
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Old 11-14-16, 07:01 AM
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Ah, yes, CETA, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act. I think it was a Nixon program but maybe Ford. When I worked for the government we also had CETA employees.

The Act was supposed to take unskilled and semi-skilled people and TRAIN them for skilled jobs. However, what I saw were unskilled and semi-skilled people put into, wait for it, unskilled and semi-skilled jobs with absolutely NO training whatsoever. In practice it was nothing more than federal money paying for local jobs. What's worse, is those employed in a CETA funded job could only hold that job for a limited time, two years as I recall but I also know that limit was not enforced. The really sad thing is that when the federal money dried up the jobs were eliminated and those doing the jobs were right back where they had been in the beginning.

One in particular was supposed to be a locksmith but in reality was nothing more than a clerk issuing and receiving keys to/from people renting a public facility. Nice guy but he knew less about locksmithing than I did.
 
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Old 11-14-16, 07:31 AM
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From what you guys said, FedCap is/was much better than CETA. The contractor that employed me paid way more than $4.00 per hour even for vacation replacement workers. The point is that it has been done & can be done again but the Feds would rather spend the money overseas where the returns are better than the income tax revenue that would be collected from trained workers with a job even if they have to pay unemployment or welfare. Welfare is only there to prevent a revolution but that's another story.

How are the returns better overseas? I'm glad that you asked. Foreign aid doesn't go to the citizens of that country. It goes to the governments who have to promise to use part of the money to buy arms from American arms manufacturers. I'd rather see the candidates' stock portfolio than their tax returns. I bet that they all have stock in arms manufactures. The same thing goes when America raises the gas prices. They tell Saudi Arabia the same thing. You must buy arms with part of the money.
 
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