Getting the younger generations interested in the trades and craftsmanship

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  • dbhost
    Slow and steady
    • Apr 2008
    • 9253
    • League City, Texas
    • Ryobi BT3100

    Getting the younger generations interested in the trades and craftsmanship

    Trades education has been all but abandoned in our public schools, and we are seeing the results in a serious shortage of up and coming skilled trades people. The woodworking hobby itself no doubt is taking a hit as most hobbyists are aging out and new generations having had little to no exposure have no real interest.

    So I am hoping to get a conversation going here. How can we get interest going in woodworking as either a vocation or a hobby? What can we do to appeal to the younger generations?
    Please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Please check out and subscribe to my Workshop Blog.
  • cwsmith
    Veteran Member
    • Dec 2005
    • 2745
    • NY Southern Tier, USA.
    • BT3100-1

    #2
    Excellent question, but unfortunately I don't have an answer. I've got a son who is now 54 and two grandson, in their 20's and they are not the least bit interested. I remember the moment of sadness when my son, in his mid-teens letting me know that he wasn't interested in ever building or making anything. I don't push and so let him continue on his intellectual path which has been quite successful for him. Last year in talking to my grandson, I asked him if he would have any interest in a 3D printer, he thought "that would be really cool". Well $1400 later and three months waiting for the order to arrive from Europe, I was told that he had totally no interest. A year later and all the packages still sit in my workshed, un-opened!

    But I have noted that very few teenagers appear to have any craft or vocational skills. Actually it's rare that I see a kid mow the lawn or shovel the walk in winter. The local highschools don't offer much in the way of "shop" and for whatever reason the vocational schools are sort of looked down upon by regular high school students and it's been that way for a number of decades. If you go to school there, you get a label, like "voke" or a similar term. Way back when, the focus was on preparing for college, and if your parents couldn't afford that, or you just didn't want to attend, then many looked down on you as not being smart enough, and hence you were a 'voke' having a lower class of education.

    When I was a kid, I made things: down-hill carts, tree huts, models; and I painted and drew pictures, wrote stories and poetry and even built a few radios from kits; and I might add, I wasn't much different than most of the kids of my age. We, the lot of us, did things and made things and it wasn't necessarily at our parent's pushing either.

    Is it our society? Do our kids have too much, or is it that their parents provide too little attention to that kind of growth? Bottom line is that I really don't have an answer, and even when I see events of our youth like 'Pinewood Derby' (which I think is great), I get the impression that participation there is comparatively small.

    I don't know what has happened to the younger generations and while I could blame it on computers and cell phones, I'm not sure if that's really the problem. Although, I do think they are the easy alternative to the growth of our personal creativity, distracting the need for young people to create things with their own hands and minds.

    I'm looking forward to reading what some of the others have to say about this subject,

    CWS
    Think it Through Before You Do!

    Comment

    • Jim Frye
      Veteran Member
      • Dec 2002
      • 1051
      • Maumee, OH, USA.
      • Ryobi BT3000 & BT3100

      #3
      We have several high schools in the area that teach trades. In addition, many of the trade unions are actively advertising on TV for their apprentice programs. A local two year college also has trades/technical curriculums. It's an idea that is gaining some traction here and that's good. My Grandson graduated from high school a couple of years ago with the intent on going to college. He and three high school buddies moved into an off campus rental home. One has dropped out of college and is learning a trade. A second is joining his Dad in his business and learning landscaping and turf management. The Grandson and the other guy are still in school, but following technical classes.
      Last edited by Jim Frye; 01-11-2024, 09:53 PM.
      Jim Frye
      The Nut in the Cellar.
      ”Sawdust Is Man Glitter”

      Comment

      • capncarl
        Veteran Member
        • Jan 2007
        • 3575
        • Leesburg Georgia USA
        • SawStop CTS

        #4
        I wouldn’t be surprised that the rise of gang activity in and area is directly proportional to the decline of trades educations in public schools?

        Comment

        • leehljp
          Just me
          • Dec 2002
          • 8469
          • Tunica, MS
          • BT3000/3100

          #5
          I have 8 grandsons. One (13 years old) is interested in robotics. 4 enjoy hunting and fishing but 3 of those do not like physical labor. 3 are interested in sports but mostly soccer. Only 1 is interested in woodworking. And woodworking is not necessarily his major focus. He is 19 and loves the outdoors. He is the only one with common or uncommon sense. He can "see" how things work without experiencing it. He is a natural with plumbing, electrical, design, room remodeling and loves hunting. He got a full scholarship to the college of his choice and then joined the National Guard as an additional learning experience. He has the ability to "see" math/calculus problems in his mind. A teacher for his 10th grade class gave out new books and told them to turn to page 30 and work those 4 problems. Teacher said the answers were in the back of the book. This grandson looked in the back before starting the work and told the teacher - "the answers in the back are wrong". The teacher argued and grandson asked him to work the first problem on the board. Teacher did and found out the answers in the back WERE wrong.

          How do you get people interested? Vocational schools would help, but now it is a matter of someone with a natural interest.
          Last edited by leehljp; 01-12-2024, 12:05 AM.
          Hank Lee

          Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

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          • jabe
            Senior Member
            • Apr 2006
            • 566
            • Hilo, Hawaii
            • Ryobi BT3000 & Delta Milwaukee 10" tilting Table circular saw

            #6
            I taught Woodshop, Bldg. & Construction, Mechanical Drawing, Basic Electricity and Auto Shop for 25 1/2 yrs before retiring in 2003 and I could see the writing on the wall. They (Dept. of Ed.) failed to recognize the data that 75% of the graduating seniors would not make it in college and that the remaining 25% who went to college only 8 to 5% would make it. Our counseling dept. was only telling the kids to succeed you must get a 4 yr. college degree. The counselors didn't know that trade people earned a decent wage, they were making more than me a teacher. We vocational teachers would tell the faculty that they will see cost of homes rise and finding skill workers will be a problem in the future. We have a shortage of workers right now, fast food, markets, restaurants, stores, trades are all looking for good workers. Some of these establishments are giving bonuses to any new employee that survive the initial probation period.
            I used to ask every class I had who were thinking of going to a 4 yr. college or university and they all raised their hands. I applauded them, then I asked who can read a novel/history book in 2 days and write a report in a week and no one raised their hand. So I told them you will not make it in a 4 yr. college if you can't do that and should look into other options that don't require a 4-6 yr. college degree. Then I would tell them about the trades and that they can earn as much as a college graduate and sometime even more. The best part of the trade option is you will not have a big student loan you or your parents will have to pay. You will earn as you learn if you're in an apprenticeship. Also you can become a independent contractor/business man and provide services to the public/people. Some of my former students did go into the trades and some became contractors. Even if they didn't go into the trades they could at least use tools to maintain their homes/vehicles themselves, saving them money, but most importantly we taught them work ethics.

            Comment

            • dbhost
              Slow and steady
              • Apr 2008
              • 9253
              • League City, Texas
              • Ryobi BT3100

              #7
              I need to stumble across the article again and post it here, but there was a really good article covering the racist and classist origins of the push for university eduction and credentialism. Oddly enough a skilled plumber, of which one of my better off neighbors is, can and does make considerably more than I do as a degreed and 25+ year experienced computer systems engineer. And MOST college degrees being granted these days seem to be for fluff majors that do not translate into anything positive for the student or society as a whole. How many whatever studies graduates to we actually need complaining about everything and producting nothing? I mean understater basket weaving is interesting and all, but does it provide value to the students ability to support themselves and contribute to society? Nope...
              Please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Please check out and subscribe to my Workshop Blog.

              Comment


              • twistsol
                twistsol commented
                Editing a comment
                I've been working in Finance and IT for 30+ years and every position I've ever had requires a degree. My degree in Christian History has been utterly useless to any of my job duties and so far my lifetime ROI is $0.25 discount on a cup of coffee at the airport because I knew the answer to a trivia question related to my major.
            • Black walnut
              Administrator
              • Aug 2015
              • 5453
              • BT3K

              #8
              My thought is the decline of western civilization started when they started dis-allowing boys from carrying pocket knives to school. The wholesale encouragement of "good enough" consumerism by the masses buying cheap furniture from Ikea and box stores made it possible. When we shifted from an agrarian society to an urban one we also moved to specialized trades and career paths. In rural America folks are more likely to work on their own cars, houses, and older farm equipment but even that is fading away. Try to find an actual machinist these days. Many places do not even allow un-licensed folks to work on their own electrical or plumbing. I know, for example, in my state water heater replacement is a "permit and inspection required" home repair. Thing that I take for granted in my life are so far removed from what the vast majority of people my age do. I could retire in 5 years.

              I can work on vehicles, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, cabinetry, butchering and curing, canning, some gunsmithing, welding, bullet casting, ammunition manufacturing and reloading (pistol, rifle, and shot shell), bike wrenching, wheel building, and learning metal lathe and mill skills. I don't claim to be a master of any but proficient in some aspects of all, plus I know my limits and when to call in a pro. Formerly I knew something about computers and writing html and a few other areas of knowledge. I know most of our long term members can do from some to most of the above list and even more. It's sad that the younger generations have not learned to have such broad knowledge but they don't need it day to day.

              Even if I had the answer or solution it is doubtful that enough of the folks that could make change happen would. People fear what they do not know or understand and my antiquated ways are frightening to them.
              Last edited by Black walnut; 03-01-2024, 07:42 PM.
              just another brick in the wall...

              Boycott McAfee. They placed an unresponsive popup on my pc.

              Comment


              • leehljp
                leehljp commented
                Editing a comment
                "I can work on vehicles, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, cabinetry, butchering and curing, canning, some gunsmithing, welding, bullet casting, ammunition manufacturing and reloading (pistol, rifle, and shot sheel), bike wrenching, wheel building, and learning metal lathe and mill skills. I don't claim to be a master of any but proficient in some aspects of all, plus I know my limits and when to call in a pro. Formerly I knew something about computers and writing html and a few other areas of knowledge. "

                Me too. I have one grandson out of 8 that can do these things. I like your comment about pocket knives. Yes, I agree 100% with that. You didn't mention your computer skills but you have them. We are not creating a curiosity environment like it was when we were young.

              • dbhost

                dbhost
                commented
                Editing a comment
                I see it similarly but not exactly. Definately reflective of the massive push toward urbanization that occurred most notably closing out the 20th century, but more than that, it was the push for credentialism. That idea that a pile of degrees would somehow make your life that much easier and more fulfilling, meanwhile we have crippled multiple generations that can not do for themselves nor their communities. I share and teach where I can. I know my limits, I am absolutely not a welder although I want to learn, but aside from some of those metal working skills, I can run more of that same list, and add a truck load of tech on top of that... I think as a society we should have added to the skills, not replaced.
            • cwsmith
              Veteran Member
              • Dec 2005
              • 2745
              • NY Southern Tier, USA.
              • BT3100-1

              #9
              Our son came to visit for a few days this week. He lives down in the New Orleans area now, so we only get to see him a couple of times a year.

              While he was here we decided to sort through the massive amount of memoribilia we had accumulated during his youth and we came across this little limerick he had written for a 'Science Digest' contest back in April of 1983, when he was thirteen. It sort of fits with the subject of this post I think:

              The robot invasion is grand,
              they are romping all over the land.
              But some people wonder,
              and think it's a blunder,
              that people don't do work by hand.


              CWS
              Think it Through Before You Do!

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