I felt like I was lied to
Today I want to share something with you that is interwoven with real estate, but is really a message I hope that you’ll share with the younger people in your life.
It all started when I stopped by a flip project this week and began talking with my lead man, Charles, about a recent article he had read about the shortage of skilled labor in our country. And by skilled labor, I mean people in the construction field.
This notion was perplexing to Charles.
Charles has been a carpenter most of his life. He has built residential houses and custom log cabins all over the country. Some people have fish stories. But if you spend any time talking Charles, you realize quickly that he has house stories. That’s because he has been building most of his life, and he’s done all kinds of interesting things, met all kinds of people and has one of the best knowledge banks in regard to construction of anyone I know. Couple that with his tremendous work ethic, and to say I’m grateful to have him on my team is an understatement.
As we talked about the labor shortage, Charles brought up his view that our society makes it sound like a bad thing to have a job that requires you to work with your hands. He even pointed out that there are many plumbers and electricians who make as much as some lawyers, but that their schooling didn’t accumulate all the debt often incurred with a law degree.
As he said that, I reflected on my experience. You see, when I was in elementary school, I remember the teachers telling us we needed to get good grades so we could go to college. In middle and high school, the teachers said the same thing but added “so you can get a good job.”
In high school, there were two paths to a diploma: college preparatory and vocational. And I remember feeling an implication that the votech diploma, as it was called, was inferior to the college prep diploma.
As such, I never even considered anything but going to college. That’s because I knew that I must “go to college to get a degree to get a good job.” Because that was what I had been told. So, go to college I did.
Now I don’t want to brag, but I got my 4-year degree in only 7 years.
As you can tell, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do. By the time I got my bachelor’s in biology to pursue a career in physical therapy, I nearly had enough credit for an additional degree.
During those seven years, I worked for a painter painting houses. That led to working with a handyman doing house repairs and then to working with a builder framing and finishing custom homes. There, I learned how to frame, side, roof, lay hardwood and tile flooring, build decks, and anything else you can think of to do with a house.
As I recounted this experience to Charles, I also told him about what happened when I graduated. You see, I needed to go to graduate school for physical therapy. But I was unable to apply in the same year I graduated college, and it was going to be almost a year before I could do so. So, I thought I would put my new bachelor’s degree to work, and I started applying for jobs.
In the end, the only jobs my degree afforded me were for a pest control company as a field tech and working on a line as a quality control tech in a plant. And to me, those weren’t what I considered to be the “good jobs” that my high school teachers told me I would get once I graduated.
I remember sitting on my bed, pondering this realization, and thinking to myself, “I’ve been lied to.” You see, I went to school, I graduated with honors, but in order to get a good job, I was told I needed to go to graduate school. That didn’t make sense to me.
To make a longer story short, I went back to construction and found work on a crew rehabbing houses for an investor in Atlanta, which is where I learned about real estate investing.
As I told Charles this story, it hit me — I would not be where am I today if I hadn’t learned to how to work with my hands.
With that fact in mind, please let the younger people in your life know that working with their hands can be a lucrative thing. The baby boomer generation is retiring, and there are fewer high school graduates pursuing the skilled jobs they are leaving, thus causing the shortage of labor. This situation has driven salaries up and presented an opportunity to be paid very well while not accumulating the debt associated with a college degree because of all the tech school assistance that is available.
So don’t discount working with your hands.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.