“For the times, they are a changin’.” — Bob Dylan

It is a strange time in which we are living. We now know phrases like “social distancing.” There are no sports. You can walk into a bank with your face covered and do business without question. Lives of people who’ve done no wrong are being ruined. Many jobs have been lost and could be lost for good.

As strange as it may sound, now is an opportune time for many people to change their lives for the better. You can start preparing to learn a trade.

These uncertain times are teaching us that many people live paycheck to paycheck. Money isn’t coming in and bills can’t be paid. The state unemployment program is so overwhelmed that many people still aren’t receiving benefits. Food banks are short of food. Organizations providing free meals are struggling to fill the need.

Learning a trade can get you out of the paycheck-to-paycheck life.

The construction industry has been short of trained labor since the recession of a decade ago. There were more than 325,000 documented construction jobs available nationwide as of February. There are plenty of openings for skilled workers in Moore County as well. Electricians, plumbers, HVAC professionals, carpenters, roofers, framers, masons, welders and more are all needed.

It takes time and effort to learn these professions and it’s not easy work. But a construction trade worker can start at $20 an hour in their skill once they complete their training.

These jobs pay much better than retail or restaurants and offer far better benefits. You have an opportunity to build a career with a skill you can use no matter how bad things get. You can even build your own business.

In Moore County, you have access to training through Sandhills Community College. It offers one-year classes in electrical, plumbing, HVAC and more for the construction industry, with more classes on the way. You can complete the class, do a one-year paid apprenticeship, get licensed and begin a new career in your chosen field quickly.

Sandhills has numerous programs in a wide variety of fields that can give you the training you need to build a great life. They also have financing programs that will help you pay for your training. You’ll get your degree or certificate in your skill and have little or no debt when you start your professional career.

In the new normal that’s coming, trade skills will still be a necessity. People will always need shelter, and that shelter will always need maintenance. When school reopens in the fall you can get the proper training if you prepare now.

As crazy as it may sound, millions of people have been provided the opportunity for a do-over by this pandemic.

You can continue to live day-to-day, paycheck-to-paycheck, or you can start fresh, learn a trade, start a career and build a great life. It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy.

(4) comments

Bruce Macbeth

Mr Wakeland , I understand you have an agenda. Instead of paying money to the local college, why not get accepted into a union apprenticeship. It will probably take 5 years to complete. But when you're done you don't owe a dime. You get to work at your selected trade and go to school at the same time. Those construction jobs you refer to throughout the country aren't just building houses. There are car plants, power houses, hospitals, schools, steel mills to name a few. And even as a union apprentice you will have health insurance and paying into a retirement fund. Just my 2 cents

Bruce Macbeth

IBEW Local 540 Canton, Ohio retired

Mark Hayes

2 cents well spent. The trades Unions offer the opportunity for members to become familiar with the latest technology, understanding and comprehending plans and specifications, use of new methods and materials that they will be involved in using, not only during serving their apprenticeship, but also ongoing throughout their working careers. Without proper instruction and qualified individuals providing that, most in trades are much slower in keeping up with the changes or end up only as good as the guy or gal they worked under, which often is not a positive source for learning.

Peyton Cook

An excellent article. The trades are an excellent way to achieve a meaningful and productive life. We have the tools for this life right here at the Community College. One way to assist individuals to receive fundings is to join the Garrantor Program at the College.

Kent Misegades

One can apprentice in nearly any field. A good “registered” apprenticeship will provide enough paid work during the apprenticeship that the participant can live independently - our you get son apprenticed as an aircraft mechanic at the Siler City airport for three years and did just that. Now he builds jet engines for GE Aviation who is paying for his Bachelor’s degree in aeronautics. He never needed a penny in loans. See ApprenticeshipNC for more information. There are no community college costs for those in a registered apprenticeship, a law I helped get passed through the legislature a few years ago. I founded NCTAP.org in 2013 with manufacturers in the Raleigh area. These are apprenticeships in manufacturing and engineering, different than the trades but the concept is the same, something that started in Switzerland four centuries ago.

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