I may have talked about this before in my blog, but the need to educate students about joining the trades as a viable career path is one worth mentioning again. I serve as the publisher of this magazine, and as the editorial director for four others, all of which serve the trades. From door and window installers to auto glass technicians and window film professionals, all industries are struggling to find labor. This isn’t a secret. But why aren’t local high schools doing more to attract students to those and other trades?

I talked to the owner of a local door and window retailer recently and he told me his company had to turn down $402,000 worth of work last year, because he didn’t have installers to do the jobs. This same company currently has approximately $800,000 worth of work on the books. And they aren’t able to sell additional jobs as they were already backed up 14 weeks. Who is going to wait that long for their new windows to be installed? No one.

This individual and I then talked about how high school counselors don’t encourage students to join trades anymore.

“That’s their job,” he said, a point to which I wholeheartedly agree.

I mean they may not hear it from their parents, who instead may be pushing them toward a four-year institution. So when planning for their futures, a high school counselor is often it.

My daughter is a high school senior and I attended senior night recently for the wrestling team, as she serves as the team manager. All the seniors come out with their parents and an announcer proclaims where each student will go to college. For one young gentleman, the pronouncement was that he would be studying to be an HVAC technician and I think he got the most applause. I think it was partly because it was a refreshing change.

One person I have admired for years now is Mike Rowe, you know the “Dirty Jobs guy.” I think of him as the “trade school guy” and love that for five years now he has offered a work ethic scholarship that offers money to those interested in skilled jobs training.

I would love it if we could all come together and promote our trade, and others, to students who may not be interested in the traditional four-year degree. If any of you have ever brought on an apprentice (perhaps a younger person out of high school who is interested in doors and windows), and helped train them, I would love to hear about it.

And speaking of training, look to the upcoming March issue ofDWMfor an extensive look at what companies are doing in this regard. But also feel free to post a comment here to tell me about your company’s programs.


  1. Right on. I suggest dumping the 40 to 50 minutes of classroom.too much change age of focus. Change to quarter or half days of teaching and sharing information to improve outcomes. There is more but I’m tired wait for a flight back from BOS TO BWI

  2. Thank you Tara! This is such an important and timely topic. AAMA is helping to advance the trades by offering our InstallationMasters training program, which focuses on both replacement and new construction markets. These classes are mainly intended for window and door installers who have a certain level of experience; however, there are class options to teach real-world skills to those who may not have the necessary field experience.

  3. Great topic! I’m originally from Germany where Trade Schools are much more common and accepted, at least when I graduated. Considering this day and age, are the companies who anticipate a need for future installers using Social Media to share about upcoming opportunities, such as mentorships, internships, apprenticeships? Even if they don’t have anything in place now, it would be easy for them to put young people in touch with Trade organizations. Another option would be to get in touch with local schools to offer to speak on Career Day. I don’t have kids but I assume movies that depict parents speaking at their children’s school is taken from real life. Why not offer to join in, as not all children have parents who can show up for that?

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