Vail Daily letter: Vocational training needed | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Vocational training needed

While picking up my mail at the post office the other day, I received the Colorado Mountain College spring class schedule for 2016. I get these every year and usually skim through it to see what’s offered and whether there’s something of interest to me.

This year’s curriculum is pretty much the same as what’s been offered before — accounting, business, health and wellness, medical office technology; a plethora of courses which help prepare students of any age to enter the job market in their chosen profession. There are also recreational courses offered — classes that run the gamut from ceramics to yoga.

While I believe that all the courses being offered is a wonderful thing, what perplexes me is the absence of any training in vocational trades. I couldn’t find a single course in plumbing, electrical, mechanical, carpentry, welding, construction management, etc. More puzzling is the fact that there is a nationwide shortage of tradespersons and CMC has yet to respond to this need. Why is it that I can go to college and learn how to make mozzarella cheese but can’t take a course on how to solder copper tubing or troubleshoot a boiler? It’s as if being “blue collar” is a stigma of shame and failure.

In the past year alone there has been more than one front page article printed in the Vail Daily addressing this labor shortage issue, including interviews with local general contractors lamenting the lack of skilled tradespersons available to staff their projects. In spite of this, there still is no trade school in our area or CMC classes being offered to bolster the dwindling construction skilled worker pool.

I’ll be 60 years old this March. I still get out there every day and ply my trade like I have been since entering the plumbing profession in 1977. It would be nice to slow down a bit and delegate some of the more strenuous tasks to ambitious younger individuals with at least a rudimentary background in plumbing; workers who can jump right in and be effective and productive from Day 1.

Unfortunately, do to the lack of trade/vocational schools, these people don’t exist.

Guys like me are a dying breed. There doesn’t appear to be many people interested in entering the trades to pick up where older retiring tradesmen leave off. The accusation that today’s generation is lazy and filled with a sense of entitlement is simply not true. The reality is they don’t see the logic in entering a trade totally green, at the bottom of the food chain, for a paltry starting wage, working hard in harsh weather conditions when they could get a job at a retail outlet stocking shelves indoors with benefits for almost the same hourly rate. If proper training was offered so they could enter a trade at an enticing starting wage I think you’d see a lot more people coming on board.

Tim Lawrence

President, Continental Plumbing and Heating Inc.