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Where did they go?

A recent column in the July 2019 issue of Woodshop News, “What’s the deal with finding skilled labor?”, discussed the shortage of cabinetmakers, joiners and woodworkers in general.

A lot of reasons are given but it’s not limited to the woodworking field. Skilled workers are hard to fine in any arena. The problem, as I see it, is with the word “worker”.

Nobody wants to be a worker anymore. People are looking for wealth but they don’t see working in the trades as a path to the wealth they seek. There’s no glamour in working with wood or metal or glass or any other material unless it’s done as an art form. There’s no path to a quick billion dollars like there might be in an internet startup or a viral YouTube channel.

When I was a kid, I used to hang out at construction sites because I was fascinated by the men who worked on them. Middle aged guys with paunches who wore overalls and drove trucks with tools piled in the back. These were carpenters, plumbers, electricians, working men who took pride in what they did. They were the backbone of the country. They worked hard, made a decent living, and had nice houses in good neighborhoods.

You want to know where they went? Just stop for a minute the next time you see a guy like I just described and check how far down your nose you are looking. People don’t want to be that guy. They want to be the guy next to him, the one driving the BMW.

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