In the building trades, no one should struggle alone.
One of the first lessons you learn in a building trades apprenticeship is that asking for help is never a sign of weakness; it’s an essential skill. Maybe the most essential skill. If you don’t ask for help when you need it, problems get compounded, deadlines get missed, the project suffers, and most importantly, safety is greatly compromised for you and those around you.
Whether you need an extra hand to carry a heavy load, an extra set of eyes on a tricky installation, help troubleshooting malfunctioning equipment, or someone to hold a ladder, you’re sure to get it. Anyone who has ever worked in construction can attest that it’s a team sport. Work in the construction trades can never, and will never, be done alone.
And needing help can extend far beyond the physical. All trades workers, whether electrical workers, painters, plumbers, carpenters, masons, roofers, or other trades, face unique stressors that can take a toll on their mental health. Just like their need for help extends far beyond the physical, so does the support. The construction trades are renowned for their commitment to the safety, health, and well-being of their workers, both physically and mentally.
How so? Many unions and trade organizations offer mental health resources and programs to help and support their members. These can range from confidential counseling services to support groups to education and training on managing stress and anxiety. For example, SMART Union and Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), IUPAT has an initiative called Helping Hand, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has confidential mental health and addiction programs available to its members and their families at the local level. This is much, much more than other industries are doing!
There are also national organizations like the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that offer resources specifically tailored to those in the building trades.
And let's remember the power of peer support. In the trades, it’s a brotherhood and a sisterhood; tradespeople are known for the steadfast support they give each other through thick and thin. A culture of caring and having the help of someone who understands the unique challenges of working in the trades can make all the difference.
In the building trades, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you ever need help, no matter what that help is, know you will get it here.
Looking for a new career where you know you’ll be supported no matter what circumstances you face, whether in your job or your personal life? Consider a career in the trades. Learn more and get started today!
In the building trades, no one should struggle alone.
Mothers play an incredibly important role in our society. They’re often the backbone of their families, working hard to love, nurture, and provide for their children to ensure they have the best possible future. The value they bring not only to their families, but to the workforce and world around them, is undeniable.
Traditionally, women have gravitated towards careers in healthcare, education, and other service industries. But there is a growing movement of mothers who are pursuing careers in the construction trades. And they’re thriving.
“Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” We’ve all heard this advice, but it can seem unrealistic and unattainable. After all, how many people you know actually love their job? Likely, very few.
But ask around the building trades, and you’ll find countless people who truly love their jobs!
Why? Here are just 10 of the thousands of reasons:
Have you ever stopped to think about how electricity gets to your home or job? You flip a switch and the lights come on, or you plug in your phone charger and it starts charging. But have you ever thought about what happens behind the scenes to make that possible? That's where lineworkers come in.
Lineworkers are skilled professionals who work on both overhead and underground power lines and electrical systems to ensure that electricity is transmitted safely and efficiently across cities, counties, and states. They are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing the infrastructure that carries electricity from power plants to homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, factories, and all of the other buildings and facilities that make up our communities.
Without lineworkers, we wouldn't have electricity. That means no lights, no refrigeration, no heating or air conditioning, no internet…the list goes on and on. But lineworkers aren't just important for our daily conveniences. Lineworkers play a critical role in keeping our modern society running safely and smoothly.
When a storm or natural disaster strikes, lineworkers are often first on the scene. They know that even a few minutes without electricity can have a huge economic impact on a community and can put lives in serious danger. They work tirelessly in dangerous and extreme conditions, at all hours of the day or night, to restore the power needed to keep hospitals running during a storm, and students cool during the hottest school days.
It’s no wonder that lineworkers are often called the "unsung heroes" of our society! Their work can be hard and dangerous, and requires immense amounts of expertise, skill, and bravery. Yet they willingly and proudly do this work to ensure that we have the electricity we need to power our lives.
Lineworkers also have a critical role in enabling a bright future for our country and communities. As the world becomes more reliant on electricity, lineworkers are responsible for ensuring that the infrastructure can handle the increased demand by learning and working with cutting-edge technologies to make the power grid more efficient and reliable.
The job of a lineworker is not an easy one, but it’s an important and rewarding one. They are essential to our way of life and play a vital role in our society. So, the next time you turn on a light or charge your phone, take a moment to appreciate the lineworkers who make it all possible!
Interested in becoming a lineworker? Learn more about how to get started with an electrical apprenticeship to join the ranks of these brave men and women!
It’s an exciting time to be a woman in the trades. While it’s no secret that the construction trades have historically been a male-dominated industry, women are breaking down barriers and making their mark in the trades. You can now find women on most job sites, working in a wide range of trades, from carpentry and plumbing, to electrical and HVAC.
In fact, over the last five years, the number of tradeswomen increased by over 32%!
With careers that provide exciting projects, meaningful work, fantastic benefits, great pay, limitless opportunities for growth, and an enviable work-life balance, it’s no wonder that construction tradespeople hear “wow, you’re so lucky!” quite often.
For many people and in many professions, success often does come down to luck - who you know, who you meet, being in the right place at the right time, etc. - but a successful career in the trades has nothing to do with luck.
Constructing the future is more than choosing a trade, learning a craft, and building a career. Today, anyone has the opportunity to have a career in the construction trades with safe working conditions, benefits, and good pay, but that hasn’t always been the case.
In honor of Black History Month, this post is about how the construction trades, especially the union construction trades, grappled with how to bring Black workers into their ranks, integrate them, and ultimately give them a big role and a big voice in the trades.
For many years, the trades excluded Black workers, just like they were excluded from public transport, schools, stores, and other public institutions. Progress and inclusion came slowly for the trades labor unions, pushed forward by changes both within and without.
In Chicago, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134 was one of the first to support Black electrical workers. In 1919, Samuel Taylor joined the IBEW and in 1922, he founded Taylor Electric, the first Black-owned union electrical company as an IBEW member. The company is still operating today. In 1943, Local 134 also had the first Black business representative and was one of the first local trade unions to include Black members in leadership.
Not every trades group and local union was so supportive. After being excluded, many Black workers refused to give up, and they continued to organize for better pay and better working conditions. On top of that, they also shouldered the burden of fighting for integration and equality. Organizations like the Negro American Labor Council (NALC) were founded to support Black workers. They organized major events like the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that helped push forward the Civil Rights Movement and Black workers’ acceptance into the building trades.
These efforts helped bring us to a better future for all workers. Black tradespeople are an integral part of the building trades today, serving in positions of leadership, reflecting the lasting influence of these early members and organizers. African Americans have risen to the highest ranks in the trades. For example, Kenneth Rigmaiden, the immediate past General President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), was the first African American elected president of a building trades union. As GP, he fought passionately to advance workers’ rights and immigrant rights and was a leading advocate for racial and economic justice.
Because of our African American tradespeople’s dedication and commitment to building a better and more inclusive tomorrow, all the trades workers now enjoy better pay, safe working conditions, and long-term benefits. During Black History Month we look back and recognize the contributions of our Black members who created these opportunities for all of us.
Have you ever been stuck in a job that makes the movie Groundhog Day, or actual Groundhog Day, hit a little too close to home - one that seems to repeat itself over and over again, day after day, no matter how hard you try to break the cycle?
With AI (artificial intelligence) and robotics becoming more and more sophisticated, many people are starting to wonder about the future of work and worry about their jobs. Will chatbots take over the jobs of customer service agents and receptionists? Will bookkeeping and data entry be handled only by machines? Will we never again interact with a traditional human server or cashier in the near future? Will robots handle all of our manufacturing and logistics?
While AI is starting to significantly impact and replace jobs and job functions in many industries, there are many skills that AI can never replace, and many of those skills are critical for success in the building trades.
Despite advanced AI technology, there’s a lot that AI can’t do, like the parts of jobs that require:
Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
Why is work worth doing such a prize? Over a lifetime, the average person spends roughly 90,000 hours working. In a week, we spend more time at work than we do pursuing hobbies or being with our families. Imagine spending all that time on work that you weren’t passionate about or fulfilled by. Imagine feeling no purpose in the work you do. That would sound more like a life-sentence than a life, and certainly not a prize.
On the other hand, imagine finding a career that means something, not just to you, but to the people around you - a career that serves and betters your community and contributes to the greater good of society. That’s work that has purpose, that you can take pride in.