Loss of master-apprentice relationship hints at loss of future masters

Posted On August 15, 2013

Tradesmen.  Craftsmen.  Artisans.  Skilled laborers.  Whatever you want to call it, they are a dying breed and businesses are taking note.  As Gen X and Millennials vie for white collar office space, or skip the corporate world and jump right into a start-up, the master-apprentice tradition of learning specific skills on the job and over years is getting lost.  And as Boomers retire, trade skills are getting lost too.

Businesses that rely on skilled labor need to work hard, and fast, to replace that centuries-old tradition and bring new apprentices into the fold.  As mentioned in the article linked above, businesses aren’t the only ones who are trying to close the gap.  Governments and educators are also working to funnel new workers into important trades, providing grants and accelerated training programs.

The question is this – can these trade-focused businesses overcome the generational bias toward the white collar world? It may be easier than you might think, given some of the Millennial and Gen X preferences for creativity, personal brand, uniqueness, and activism. Both of these generations want to stand out but also belong, skilled jobs represent a proud tradition and a shift away from the common expectation.  Highlight the skills portion of the conversation – not just anyone can do this specific work; it takes dedication, practice, perfection and provides a sense of honor over a job well done.  Car manufacturers, for example, have been taking this approach to get Americans to buy American-made cars for the past several years.  Now it’s time to deliver that same message to get people to build them (or whatever else it is that needs building).

Categories: Generations, Workplace