Gen Z looks to trade jobs in the era of AI

Gen Z prefers trade schools over college

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The Future. Young people are increasingly interested in trade-skill jobs like plumbing, carpentry, and mechanics. Despite the fear that there may be a lack of infrastructure for training the next generation of trade workers, those jobs may be about to undergo a renaissance in an age when AI is being developed to take over entry-level desk positions.

Tangible talents
Handyman-hiring platform Thumbtack conducted a series of surveys about the state of trade jobs and found some surprising insights.

  • 73% of Gen Z respondents have a high opinion of trades and say it’s almost as respectable a career choice as going into medicine.
  • 47% are interested in pursuing a trade career themselves.
  • 80% of respondents say benefits like a more flexible schedule and a faster, cheaper educational path make it more appealing than a desk job.
  • But 82% are still being told going to college is the only option for having a successful life — so there’s still a strong generational divide.

Gen Z’s positive feelings about trade skills are validated by people currently working those jobs. Thumbtack found 87% of people in those positions are happy with their occupations and would choose the same path again, with more even saying they’d encourage their kids to pursue them. 

But, workers are also worried the trade industry isn’t doing a good job attracting recruits, which could scare off young workers — a feeling buoyed by the fact that technical job applications were down 49% in the past two years.

It may take more schools like Tampa’s Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation to reverse course.


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