There is nothing worse than the anxiety you feel when your plumbing begins to gurgle! The other day our kitchen sink stopped draining and no matter what we tried to do to fix it, nothing worked. So today we set out to look for a plumber. With a shortage of plumbers we were dreading how much it was going to cost while also fretting that it might take days to get someone to come to our home. Thanks to Google and a little luck we had someone here by Noon!
Antonio from Clog Kings showed up at our door on time and ready! Immediately I was drawn to how he worked through the situation just like a scientist. HE WAS MY PROBLEM SOLVER OF PLUMBING! First, he asked Questions. Then he did a little Research. He wanted to know what we put down the drain, do we use the garbage disposal, what problems have we had before and from that he Developed a Hypothesis. Antonio Conducted Experiments by checking our drains, vents and anything else that could have caused our sink to clog. While doing so he cleaned out a bunch of old grease. We live in a house built in the 1940’s and since lipids are hydrophobic who knows how long that grease had been sitting there!
He was able to Observe and Conclude that the problem was in the sink trap… and it was NOT oil! Sharing the Results he told me that our problem was EGG SHELLS! Yep, those little guys that are composed of about 94% calcium carbonate which makes them extremely hard. Not to mention that we’ve recently switched to organic, brown eggs which go through a different sterilization process that results in stronger shells.
For years I’ve been advocating that “STEM” careers should not be defined as those that need a four-year, graduate degree or PhD. We, as a society have become disconnected and have bought hook, line and sinker into the notion that if a job is a “dirty job” it is sub-par to that of a “STEM career”. We have to start promoting skilled trades as cross-cut of STEM fields. We say that Science is everywhere, yet we polarize careers with stereotypes. Like Mike Rowe says, “We’ve Got a PR Problem” and I couldn’t agree more. Skilled trade work isn’t just a “man’s job” either. Employers are also looking to women to fill the gap.
Recent statistics show:
- According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistic Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters will see a 14% job growth in the next 10 years (much higher than the national average).
- The median annual wage of a plumber is 53,910/year or $25.92/hour (HS or equivalent degree).
- Due to an aging workforce MILLIONS of skilled labor jobs will go unfilled adding to the already tight labor market.
- In the state of Virginia there is 1 attorney for every 70 people and 1 plumber for every 1000.
We also need to remember that businesses that employ trade labor are often owned and run by small business owners. This means they’re connected with their community. Antonio shared with me how Clog Kings got its start and how they have grown their business from 2 employees to over 12 in just 2 years. Let me tell you, they don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon! The side of his truck proudly displays a sign that says, “Now Hiring”and they are all about social responsibility and giving back. They support veteran causes and empower their employees to offer random acts of kindness, like paying for someone’s gas or supporting local charities.
If STEM is curriculum based on the idea of educating students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math then why aren’t we marketing skilled trades under the umbrella of STEM? It is time that we take “STEM” as we know it off the ivory towers in which we’ve placed it and promote skilled trades as careers that are critical to a growing economy I love that my smart phone gives me the ability to grab an Uber and that technology has added a level of ease to my life that would be difficult to live without; however, we shouldn’t discredit innovations of the past and the people that help to maintain them as sub-par to those of today. I don’t know about you, but if my toilet won’t flush, or my air conditioning breaks when its 102 degrees my life will be greatly impacted.
During a recent trip back home to Arizona I met up with my friend Jeremy Babendure, Executive Director of the SciTech Institute. I love that part of their mission is to build awareness and partnerships around manufacturing. They have created great reach which includes over 50 organizations and 10,000 people involved. The growth Jeremy and his organization has developed over the past decade has been tremendous! Their initiative along with collaboration from the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Technology Council Foundation will ensure that as Arizona can produce a well-rounded workforce that supports the state’s economic growth and development.
It is important that we prepare our students to be part of a Future Ready workforce that will be technologically driven. We must also understand that not every student wants to become a scientist or engineer and it is time that we place a greater emphasis on technical education as a viable post-high school avenue into the workforce. We need to rethink and rebrand how we promote college. Let’s praise all students who choose to further their education no matter how dirty or glamorous their future job may be.