I recently had a conversation about a SkillsUSA competition I had attended in Kentucky the day before, when someone asked me, “Why do you care so much about kids being interested in the trades?” Well, here’s why…

I went to trade school because I was “bad at school.” At least that is what the perception was, and it still drives me crazy to this day. Everyone always seemed to preach to go to school and become a doctor. “That way you will make more money,” they would say. However, I was different. I always knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a carpenter and own my own business. Plain and simple. That mindset was met with a ton of negativity. Which is something I never understood.

The question I seem to get all the time from young kids in high school is, “should I go to school or not?”, to me, it boils down to what do you want to do?

By no means do I think that traditional schools and colleges are necessarily bad, but after trade school, I went to college, and it did not help me with my business. I went to school for construction management. I had some basic classes and some BS classes, but it did not teach me how to start and run a business. It did not tell me about the taxes I’d eventually have to pay, what overhead means, or how to put a formal contract together. You can only learn that by doing it.

College is great. Do you want to be a lawyer? Go to college. Do you want to be a doctor? Go to college. Do you want to do something that requires a degree? Then you have to go to school. However, if you want to start a business or you want to be in the trades full time, I honestly don’t think college helps you with that. Also, if you don’t have any idea what you want to do, if you do go to school, it might eventually lead to taking a job down the road that you don’t really want rather than using those four years to focus on your craft and really perfect it and not have any significant debt.

Going back to the original question, I think that its important to me that if kids are genuinely interested in the trades, they NEED a positive support system behind them.

To me, it is about gaining respect and gaining the quality back in what we do. Starting with my generation as well as the next one.