Article Image

IPFS News Link • Employment & Jobs

Good News: Gen Z Takes Up Trades


For many, there is nothing quite as satisfying as becoming a skilled master of a tradecraft. Be it plumbing, electrical, or myriad other hands-on trade professions, what can be better than combining one's physical abilities with technical know-how and building or fixing something — and getting paid well for it?

It's certainly better than going to college or university without any clear direction and ending up with a major that won't guarantee a good-paying job to pay off that mountain of loan debt you accrued over the previous four years.

This appears to be a growing perspective among Gen Zers, who are ditching college in favor of the skilled trades.

A recent Wall Street Journal article notes the shift: "Enrollment in vocational training programs is surging as overall enrollment in community colleges and four-year institutions has fallen. The number of students enrolled in vocational-focused community colleges rose 16% last year to its highest level since the National Student Clearinghouse began tracking such data in 2018. The ranks of students studying construction trades rose 23% during that time, while those in programs covering HVAC and vehicle maintenance and repair increased 7%."

So, what's driving this change in Gen Z? Well, to put it bluntly, the free market.

Demand for skilled tradesmen has raised the industry's earning power. The median pay for new construction workers increased 5.1% last year alone to $48,089. In contrast, the median pay for professional services rose just 2.7% in 2022, for an annual wage of $39,520. And this is a four-year trend.

According to a survey conducted by Jobber on high school- and college-age individuals, a whopping 75% said they were interested in vocational schools. Meanwhile, 80% of those surveyed noted that their parents wanted them to go to college.