Back to school. For many, that means the start of another year of long hours in classes and lectures, writing papers, doing projects, studying, and working towards a future career. There’s a ton of merit to higher education and working hard towards a long term goal, but for many, slogging through years of coursework just to graduate with debt, no real-world experience, and only a prayer of finding a job isn’t an exciting or viable option.
Thinking about a new career? Looking for work that you can not only be proud of and fulfilled by, but a career that is built on real, lasting skills that is secure and can’t be outsourced or automated? Look no further than a career in the building trades!
We spend nearly 30 percent of our lives working, yet over 50% of U.S. workers aren’t satisfied with their jobs. When you spend so much of your precious time and life at work, finding a career that’s fulfilling and rewarding should be of the utmost importance.
Have you ever heard the expression “You can’t have your cake and eat it too?” We’re guessing you have, but if you haven’t, it essentially means that you can’t have more than is reasonable, or that you can’t have the best of two worlds. When it comes to most things in life, there are clear tradeoffs, and career paths are perceived the same way: work longer hours, get a higher salary; pay a ton for a college degree, earn more money later; do the grunt work, hope you’ll get a chance to climb up the ladder later.
It’s true that when you picture a construction site, you probably don’t picture a sea full of women. But just because it’s a traditionally male-dominated industry, doesn’t mean that there aren’t more and more women joining the skilled trades workforce, and for good reason!
Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month, began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It’s celebrated all over the world, but here in the United States, Black History Month highlights the struggles and celebrates the contributions of African Americans from all walks of life.
Did you know that some of the prominent African Americans in our country were key members of the labor movement? Take A. Philip Randolph, born in 1889, who was head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and Vice-President of the AFL-CIO's Executive Council. He represented the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in a dispute against the Pullman Company. He was instrumental in convincing President Roosevelt to sign an executive order, in June 1941, which called for an end to discrimination in defense plant jobs. Mr. Randolph chose the labor movement because, “"(t)he labor movement traditionally has been the only haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden and the poor." As Vice-President of the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council, he worked tirelessly to end discrimination from within the ranks of the union.
More recently, take Madison Burnett. Mr. Burnett is Training Director at the Electrical JATC (Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee) of Southern Nevada. After graduating from Delgado College in New Orleans, Mr. Burnett applied and was accepted into the electrical apprenticeship in 1984 and thus began his journey in the trade. Following his completion of the program in 1994, Madison worked as a journeyman wireman, a foreman, an instructor, and Assistant Training Director before taking his current position as Training Director in 2004.
Mr. Burnett’s dedication to the electrical industry has afforded him the opportunity to serve on the Nevada State Apprenticeship Council, Governor’s Workforce Development Board for the State of Nevada, International Code Council, Southern Nevada Apprenticeship Programs Association and the Advisory Committee with the electrical training Alliance.
As Black History Month comes to a close, we salute the African-American men and women who have strived, suffered, achieved and won. We’re proud that many of them call the labor movement home, and we are ever grateful for their contributions.
What is it like to be a trades worker? First things first, in the construction trades, we work hard to make things that are real. When someone asks us what we do, we say, “I’m a sheet metal worker,” or “I’m an electrical worker.” We never have to say, “I’m an associate marketing coordinator reporting to the assistant vice president of sales.” We make bridges, stadiums, houses, roads, machines, things that are real, things that last.
2020 was quite a year. While it has been trying for all of us, it’s also forced good and needed reflection on what we really value, and what we want from life moving forward, both personally and professionally. Coupled with a new year and the new resolutions that come with it, 2021 is sure to be a year of progress, change, and growth.
Construction trades have always been essential, long before the words pandemic, COVID, quarantine, and coronavirus were part of everyday life. Construction is the lifeblood of our nation’s progress and welfare, providing infrastructure and services that are critical to all aspects of our everyday lives. So when asked “Are Construction Workers Essential Workers?” the answer is a resounding and multifaceted YES!
Opportunities are endless for those who start their career as an electrician through a registered apprenticeship program. Just like most jobs, you get what you put into it. If you set goals and work to accomplish them, you will get where you want to be.