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Interest in Skilled Trades Growing Due to Job Security, Flexibility

New research finds young people think construction offers a rewarding career, and that pros are happy with their choice and earnings potential.

Jean Dimeo

September 21, 2023

2 Min Read
Portrait of cheerful young construction worker with hardhat standing against yellow metal wall
Maskot/Alamy Stock Photo

A recent survey of young adults shows they have a strong interest in skilled trades because these roles offer flexibility, job security and a rewarding career. Those results dovetail with ones from a companion survey of skilled trades workers, who reported happiness with their career choice. 
About 1,000 people 18 to 30 years old and 800 skilled trades workers took separate surveys conducted by Thumbtack this summer. Here are highlights of what the pros had to say:  

  • 87% of skilled trade workers said they are happy with their jobs. 

  • 87% would choose the same career again if given the opportunity. 

  • 94% would encourage family members to pursue a skilled trade. 

  • 95% are optimistic about their job security and believe they won’t be replaced by artificial intelligence. 

  • 95% are optimistic about their earnings potential. 

  • 93% are optimistic about their career growth. 

  • 92% think they can learn new skills or advanced technologies in their trade. 

Why young people are embracing the trades 

More good news: Nearly half of the young adults surveyed said they are interested in pursuing a career in the trades, and more than 80% said construction work offers benefits over traditional desk jobs, including: 

  • More flexible work. 

  • Less expensive education and lower debt accumulation. 

  • Quicker entry into the workforce. 

  • Ability to be your own boss. 

Construction’s financial security is especially appealing—it was the key factor for 70% of young adults surveyed. Beyond money, 73% said skilled trades command respect; only medicine (77%) ranked higher. 

College prep killing shop class 

College is the right choice—that’s the message students heard for years from parents, guidance counselors and others. But according to the young adult survey: 

  • 82% reported they were incorrectly told that going to college is the only way to be successful, including 90% who went to college. 

  • 59% felt pressure to attend a four-year college or university, most often due to family or societal expectations. 

As such, shop class—a vital first taste of the trades for countless pros—has been dropped from many high schools. Nearly one-third of young adults surveyed weren’t offered shop classes, but for those who took shop, 86% said it was one of their favorite classes. 

Thumbtack surveyed about 1,000 U.S. young adults July 18 and 19. Sampling was calibrated to reflect even gender and geographical distribution. Also, more than 830 pros were surveyed between June 21 and July 17. Those respondents were employed in the skilled trades in home construction, maintenance and systems. 

About the Author(s)

Jean Dimeo

Editorial Director, ConstructioNext, WOC360, IRE360, Informa Markets

Jean Dimeo is an award-winning editor, writer and publication manager who has worked in construction publishing for 30 years. Dimeo was managing editor of Construction Dive, our sister publication about commercial construction, and the editor in chief of Builder, EcoHome and Building Products, all about residential building and remodeling. She also worked as an editor for a Spanish-language construction publication and as a building products expert for consumer magazines including Better Homes & Gardens SIPs.

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