Editors Blog

Taking Care of Business: Blame Anti-HVACism on Parents

November 9, 2007
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OK, so the headline isn’t telling you anything you don’t already know. But let me reinforce what you already have suspected for so long.

Our parents are to blame for the lack of interest in the HVAC trade.

That thought was reinforced by a very good book that I just finished reading, titled boys adrift by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D. I thank my friend, Mike Beaver, an HVAC contractor from South Carolina for the recommendation. The book is about the epidemic of unmotivated and underachieving young men.

What is most revealing to me, besides his blame on parents, is how Sax concludes that it may be better to start boys in kindergarten at age six instead of five (girls can still start at five because they are more developed mentally). But I digress.

In one chapter, he quoted a construction contractor who was having trouble finding people to fill the skilled trade jobs in his company. The contractor said, “I think it starts with the parents, and the teachers. They look down their noses at what they call “blue collar” work. They think we’re just digging holes and throwing bricks around. They don’t have a clue that modern construction techniques are more high-tech than most desk jobs.

“The parents and the teachers think that if a kid doesn’t go to college, that kid’s a failure. We require smart people, highly motivated people who totally understand what they’re doing. We’re just not able to find those people in this country anymore.”

Sax quoted another social critic who added, “The spread of wealth at the top of the American society has created an explosive increase in the demand for the craftsmen. Finding a good lawyer or physician is easy. Finding a good carpenter, painter, electrician, plumber, glazier, mason - the list goes on and on - is difficult and it is a seller’s market.”

Try telling disinterested students to ignore their parents and jump into this seller’s market. Tell them they can easily earn a six-figure income. And while you’re at it, ask their reluctant parents to join in the conversation. It’s time to really spread the word.

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