Encourage students to consider the trades

The Last Word

Craig Coursin
President, Stier Construction Inc.
N8 W22195 Johnson Drive, Suite 160, Waukesha
Industry: Construction
Employees: 15

As president of a general contracting, construction management and consulting firm, Craig Coursin has seen the shortage of skilled trades workers in his line of work. Leaders must encourage more students to consider these careers, he says.


“The skilled trades gap is a huge opportunity! The gap is real. We are already at dangerously low levels of our skilled workforce. College for everyone should not be our mission. We can play an active role to solve this by raising the awareness of our youth. If they show a passion for making things and working with their hands, the trades could be a perfect option. The education system stresses college, but the current goal of 100 percent college-bound is not realistic. We need balance.

“A student going into the trades directly from high school eliminates college debt while learning and earning a decent salary–a financial win. He or she is way ahead of someone who gets a college degree and then struggles to find a job. Long-range, this worker can learn a trade, get a business degree and own a business – what a fantastic path.

“Mike Rowe, host of the show ‘Dirty Jobs’ and master carpenter, and Norm Abram from the show ‘This Old House,’ have recently joined forces to promote the trades. They are producing fantastic video stories telling why they choose that career. We can all take an active role and tell someone close to us to think about a career as a carpenter, electrician, plumber, HVAC, mason, etc. All are very honorable professions. Our job is to offer encouragement to any interested person that the trades are an excellent career option. It is up to us to be the solution; you have the power to be an important mentor.”

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