Help Needed!

We were talking about Tex-Mex music a couple of blog posts ago.  It seems Joe “King” Carrasco declared himself king of the entire genre.  If he is, then this group is at least in the Royal Family…

That’s the Sir Douglas Quintet performing “Mendocino” on Playboy After Dark (did you catch Hef boogieing with Barbie Benton?). The song hit #27 on the Billboard charts in early 1969, and lead singer/guitar player Doug Sahm certainly led the league in sideburns!

Stumbled upon an interesting blog post Tuesday – asking the always provocative question: “How will professional tradesmen jobs of the future be filled?”  The author, John Sonnhalter of points out that the perception among young people is that “those kinds of jobs” aren’t cool and are low paying.  He adds that “most guidance counselors with most high schools are pointing everyone to college,” and “what young people don’t realize is that a plumber or journeyman electrician makes more than 4-year college graduates and don’t have all those student loans to pay off.”  Sad, but true.  Mr. Sonnhalter hits the nail on the proverbial head.

In our Taco FloPro training classes, the “old guys” outnumber the “young guys” by a fairly wide margin, with an average age in the early 40′s. It’s fairly rare to find anyone in their early 20′s.

This is not a good trend.

According to the US Department of Labor, job opportunities in the PHC trades are considered “excellent” through 2016, not due to a magical comeback of new construction, but due to the fact that equipment in all those houses built during the last couple of housing booms will be due for major servicing or replacement. In addition, the DOL says newer technology, more complex equipment, a focus on IAQ and alternative energy sources will lead to an overall increase in the job market.

You can argue with that premise all you want, but here’s something you can’t argue with:  according to the PHCC, some 87,000 plumbing and HVAC technicians will be retiring over the next several years.  If you couple anticipated job growth with retirements and general attrition (which is substantial), you get (according to PHCC), the need for nearly 700,000 new bodies for the industry by 2014.  These are jobs than can’t be outsourced or sent overseas, and these are jobs that must be filled.

But the question remains, by whom?

You often hear people say we need to appeal to kids who “aren’t college material.”  What the hell is that supposed to mean?  “Well, I guess you’re not smart enough to go to college, so we’re going to make a tradesman out of you.”

How insulting is that!

It requires a highly developed level of intelligence to imagine the best way to layout a DWV and domestic water distribution system in the skeleton frame of a house.  There’s brilliance in creating something operational out of a bunch of parts, and it requires advanced thinking and deductive reasoning skills to successfully troubleshoot some of the high-tech electronics and high-efficiency equipment we’re installing.

Oh, and many of those same people also have the skills necessary to operate and manage their own businesses.

Instead of trying to appeal to kids who aren’t “college material,” it’s better to appeal to kids who have mechanical imagination, who have the creativity to make something out of nothing, and who have advanced deductive reasoning skills and show them how they can make a very successful living, and eventually own their own business, by pursuing a career in the trades.

Remember the Old Chinese proverb – Giving your son a skill is better than giving him one thousand pieces of gold.

The more you look into relatively obscure acts like Joe “King” Carrasco and the Sir Douglas Quintet, the more you find hidden gems.  They may not have been “college material,” but they left us with some mighty fine music.  Try getting this one out of your head…

“She’s About A Mover” was a minor hit in 1965 for the Quintet.  And they sure didn’t look like they were from Texas, did they?

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