A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Introducing Scott Braddock, Advocate for Blue Collar Workers

Scott Braddock is a broadcast journalist whose recent experience with unemployment sparked a very personal interest in the employment outlook in Texas.  This week he posted a blog on his website entitled “The Value of Blue Collar Work in which he writes about many of the issues which have also been discussed on Construction Citizen.  He understands that not all careers begin with a four-year college degree, partly due to his own story.  He writes:

“I don’t have a college education but I am trained as a journalist.  Over the years, companies large and small have prepared me to report and cover stories and trends. My on-the-job training is worth more to me than a college degree might ever have been in my chosen field.”

Braddock includes a link to a 9-minute video of Evan Smith of The Texas Tribune interviewing state Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) earlier this month about changes he believes are needed in the education system, and the need for “blue collar work” to be appreciated and pursued.  Patrick is quoted as saying:

“Everyone should have the option to go to college. But, not everyone should be tracked to go to a four-year university.”

Braddock also mentions that Mike Rowe, executive producer and host of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs”, created that show in honor of his grandfather who was a “blue collar worker” whom Rowe admired very much.  Braddock reflects that he, too, admired his own “blue collar” grandfather – an Air Force veteran and self-taught mechanic and repairman.  Braddock writes:

“Unlike Rowe’s granddad, mine would resort to reading the manuals for whatever needed fixing. Because he often worked on complex farm equipment, a good portion of his day could be spent learning exactly how something was put together before he could even start the back-breaking work of repairing it. He essentially trained himself so that he could do the work that needed to be done.  He’d work from the time the sun rose until it set, or longer.

“My grandfather also taught me the art of helping people understand complex ideas. He’d sit and read the encyclopedia for fun. That’s well before almost anyone had the internet.  As an 8 year old boy, I’d ask him what he was reading or thinking about and he could always explain it to me in a way I would understand.  He was brilliant academically and also understood the value of hard work. The kind of work that makes your hands bleed.”

Braddock writes about Mike Rowe’s work (which we have also told you about) to educate legislators and the public on the “skills gap” which America faces and the problem with continuing to accept negative attitudes that label skilled labor jobs as demeaning.  He concludes:

“When I was 8 years old, if someone had told me that what my grandfather did for a living was ‘demeaning’, I’m not sure how I’d process that.  After all, he was my hero.”

Watch for future posts by Scott Braddock, who has agreed to join the list of Construction Citizen bloggers.


Anonymous's picture

Great column of your about blue collar work I read in the Star Telegram. The automobile dealership where my wife works can't find enough mechanics. A Friends daughter got a BA from SMU in archeology and a Masters in Art History....and she is still waiting tables. I don't know who is advising these kids at expensive universities, but all it is is jobs program for professors. Mexicans do quite well laying carpet and tile.

Anonymous's picture

I read your article in the Ft Worth Star Telegram and really enjoyed it. You have "hit the nail on the head"!!
Skills , creativeness, and good old fashion work is "demeaning"? That is simply WRONG! We need creative gardners, carpenters/wood workers, etc. There are other definitions for education beside college degrees. Keep up good work.

Anonymous's picture

There is dignity in any honest work. I know some "skilled laborers" who pull salaries twice what a school teacher earns. Some are machinists who make things with a tolerance to tens of a thousandth of an inch. Anyone who does honest work is valued and should be respected and should be entitled to earn a living.

Anonymous's picture

Just heard on the radio this morning that Student Loan debt in the US is now higher than credit card debt. Hopefully young people will open their eyes to the incredible opportunity out their in "blue collar" jobs, especially the construction industry.

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