Coming To The Rescue

Earlier this month we celebrated National Tradesmen Day and to some, being a tradesman is who they are. It is so much more than just what they do. It goes far beyond a 9-5 job. It is a calling. The very belief that something can be created by using your hands. That you have the skills, knowledge, ability, and ingenuity to make something from nothing. The term "laborer" may be antiquated and have a negative connotation, but there's no doubt that tradesmen work in the labor-of-love field.

They come to our rescue when a pipe bursts, when the a/c or heat goes out, and when our car breaks down. Tradesmen (and women) are the backbone and saving grace of our community. They keep it all runnin'. They keep it all movin'. And yet in recent years, there has been a pull; a shift in not only understanding the absolute necessity of trades but from the value of trades. But why? We still need roads. We still need houses. We still need buildings. Our cars still need to run. The need for roads, water, electricity, and the list goes on. 

Trades are lucrative and millions of hardworking men and women not only just "earn a living" but are highly successful in their careers. So why is there a shortage of tradespeople? A four-year degree is not a one-size-fits-all answer for eighteen-year-olds who are searching for their purpose. Trade schools and two-year colleges, such as Metro Community College, provide the perfect opportunity and conduit for young minds to determine if their passion or favorite hobby can also become their livelihood. The importance of community colleges like MCC and trade schools is understated. They help build a strong workforce!

MCC is Leading The Way

MCC has over 1,400 students taking classes across 19 different Career and Technical programs this fall. Nathan Barry, Dean of Career and Technical Education at MCC, says they invested millions of dollars in facilities and educational enhancements to ensure they are the community leader in Career and Technical education. Thanks to their vast community, industry, and philanthropic support they can now introduce students and prepare them for today’s complex and exciting industries. Barry says,” Whether it is construction, manufacturing, or transportation, all of the local and regional industry sectors continue to grow.  The most significant change we’ve seen over the past decade is the increase in technology along with the speed and complexity of changes that impact the market.  MCC has been a leader in ensuring our students have the opportunity to learn in state-of-the-art facilities, along with faculty that introduces them to real-time industry experiences from day one.” Alloway says their $90 million dollar facility demonstrates their commitment to Omaha and makes them the best in the country. MCC helps create careers and opportunities people can be proud of.  

Nebraska Realty Supports The Future of Tradespeople

It’s no secret there’s a housing shortage and Nebraska Realty is working alongside over 50 builders throughout the Omaha community and across Nebraska to create solutions. Andy Alloway, Nebraska Realty’s President, understands the importance of working with these builders, organizations like Builders of The Future, local high schools, and area colleges. 

“The trades are the backbone of the country.” ~ Andy Alloway

Alloway is also on the MCC Foundation Board of Directors. Alloway fully supports efforts to increase the interest in trades and actively supports young men and women pursuing careers as tradespeople. Nebraska Realty also offers an annual scholarship for the trades.

Society is so eager to push the narrative that traditional college or the university setting is for everyone" and in doing so, we have forgotten the significance and impact of trades. That doesn’t take away from those who have earned a bachelor's degree or have gone on to higher education, but it's irresponsible to push the college or university agenda on every individual. Our society puts such tremendous pressure on educators and parents and defines a job well done by that kiddo going to college. The notion that traditional college is the only path to success is unrealistic and can be detrimental.  The smarter decision for some is realizing you have a hobby or interest and then turning that passion into a successful career. For some, the path to success and happiness in a career can be curvy, twisty, and lengthy. And for many tradespeople, they have wasted no time in getting to where they wanted to go.

We believe that a tradesperson has a servant's heart. Tradespeople serve the public good. To ensure our roadways are safe. To preserve the automotive vehicles that take us to work and play. They make sure the home is finished on time, the lights are on and the heat is running. They are the backbone of communities like Omaha and a critical piece to solving our housing shortage in the years to come. 

The Home Company 

The Home Company builds an estimated 150 homes a year in the Omaha metro area. Dave Vogtman, Senior Vice President, says that skilled trade and trade labor is aging out.  Vogtman is seeing fewer young people entering the trades and doesn’t believe they truly understand the type of salary and living they can expect from entering a trade. Skilled trades, after attending a 2-year program will make a great salary or wage and have the opportunity for quick advancement. Sadly, Votman sees many 4 year graduates saddled with debt and working in lower-wage positions.  In a recent survey, more than 8 out of 10 single-family builders identified the availability of labor as the most significant issue they will face in the coming years. The current scarcity of construction labor is concerning. 

Changing The Narrative 

To better understand the challenges the industry is facing you have to take a deeper dive into the data. The vast majority of young adults do not see themselves working as a tradesperson. Young adults between the ages of 18-25 who’ve not decided on a career see very little chance they would join the trades even if the pay was high. We have a long way to go before the trades are accepted as viable career opportunities. There are stereotypes, myths, and misinformation that need to be addressed at local high schools and in homes across the state of Nebraska. Businesses like The Home Company, Nebraska Realty, and community colleges like MCC are helping to increase awareness, dispelling myths, and setting the record straight. They are leading the way to help change the narrative and showcase career opportunities in the trades.