$37,693. That’s the average student loan debt in 2021. 
Keep in mind, that isn’t the average graduate’s debt but also counts everyone who has dropped out along the way.
Trade School vs College
For many parents, college is the only option for their kid’s futures.
When they went through school, 30 years ago, it was the fast track to higher earnings. It didn’t even matter which degree they had or what they majored in.
They were basically guaranteed a high-paying career.
In recent history, construction wages pay pretty well for jobs that you can get out of high school, but they haven’t compared to the type of money you can earn with a degree.
Trade School is for the bad kids
The other issue is the kind of kids the trade schools attracted. At best, they were kids that struggled with their grades. At worst, these kids already had criminal records.
This is what today’s parents remember. This is perfectly captured by one parent’s comment in a recent article by The Atlantic on trade schools vs college. 
“Vocational schools… seemed to be reserved for people who weren’t making it in ‘real’ school“
So, in today’s parents’ minds, trade schools are off the table. In other words, there is no alternative to college when it comes to their children.
Construction Labor Shortage 2022
We keep hearing about the construction labor shortage.
Skilled labor shortage
In fact, just last month, The Hustle, a daily business newsletter with an entrepreneurial slant, did a deep dive on the shortage of skilled trade workers. 
Further, Ken Ballin of Skyro Floors in New Jersey, makes an excellent point about this construction labor shortage in the May issue of TileLetter:
It’s all about the young people. 
Young Construction Workers
Ballin makes the point that we can talk about construction labor shortages all we want. However, nothing happens until more young people choose careers in skilled trades.
How do you attract young people to the trades?
Attracting Young Construction Workers to Careers in Skilled Trades
Here are a few ways that will help attract young people to the construction trades:
Right now, social media is doing the heavy lifting in advertising construction jobs to young people.
To actually see things be made and for that process to look desirable is where the trades have a HUGE advantage over other careers when it comes to showing off on social media.
Can you imagine office people posting TikTok’s about their Zoom meetings and typing on spreadsheets?
Yet, actually building something and recording the process can be captivating, especially for young people.
By the way, see my list of popular tile industry TikTok’ers here.
High Wages and Benefits
To attract workers to the trades, there has to be a better line than “Building trades offer decent wages”.
A $70k job isn’t a ‘carrot’ compared to the universities advertising six-figure+ jobs for college graduates.
Construction wages need to go up and they obviously will with so few workers to carry the load.
The time is coming when the mid-range tech jobs will be outsourced overseas, or worse, to artificial intelligence (AI).
Try to get AI to fix a leaking faucet. However, in 2022, you still need actual people to perform these tasks.
Tweaking the culture
Construction culture does need to change. It will never be the same as office culture and, frankly, it never should be.
But it does need to evolve to be more inclusive, more professional, and less bro-y than it is now.
Other male-dominated industries like the armed forces are doing this very thing. We need to also. Bigger companies do a better job of it and the smaller companies will eventually learn.
Emphasize student debt load
The debt incurred for the ‘privilege’ of
partying attending a university is staggering.
Encouraging your children to start their lives $40k in the hole if they don’t have a clear career path is irresponsible.
Although, if the student loan debts are bailed out then maybe it wasn’t the worst gamble in the world.
We need more Scott Galloways’ shining a light on how the college system has lost its way. 
Trade School is Where the Smart Kids Go
The tide goes out and it comes back in. It’s a natural thing. In regards to the trades, the tide has turned but it’s still way out there.
Young people that choose to work in the trades will reap the benefits that are long due.