Sen. Booher Op-Ed: A new day to thank our community’s tradesmen

There’s a day to honor administrative assistants, bosses and teachers, but what about those folks who show up at your house when the toilet is overflowing or the A/C quits? When do we say thanks to the tradesmen who built America and keep it running strong?

Have you ever stopped to think what would happen if there were no mechanics in Michigan to repair our cars or if there were no tradesmen with the skills to build the roads that we travel every day? What would we do?

According to a recent Talent Shortage Survey by ManPower Group, jobs for skilled tradesmen go unfilled more than any other category of employment. That’s right: plumbers, electricians, welders, mechanics and more—there are simply not enough youth considering professions as tradesmen. Why don’t more people want to learn a skilled trade so they can work with their hands and make a good living?

The answer may lie, in part, to the fact that Americans show very little appreciation for the men and women employed as professional tradesmen.

It’s time that we did something to change that perception, which is why I introduced Senate Resolution 86 to recognize Sept. 20 as National Tradesmen Day in Michigan this year. 

A simple day to say “thank you” is at the heart of a campaign started in 2011 by IRWIN Tools. National Tradesmen Day is the centerpiece of the campaign to recognize America’s tradesmen and is held the third Friday of September.

I first learned about National Tradesmen Day from the Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center in my district. The center is holding a celebration in honor of this day on Sept. 20 and has invited all tradesmen to attend. 

I encourage more schools and centers to do something similar to help thank our workers and encourage more young people to pursue a skilled trade. Reports show that by 2030, 79 million tradesmen will retire with only 41 million new workers replacing them; and only 6 percent of high school students consider a career in the trades. Most vacated jobs will require training and expertise our young people are not getting, so we must do all we can to better educate them about the opportunities available. 

I hope that National Tradesmen Day becomes a part of this state’s traditions. Maybe it’s a day to hold a celebration, like the career center is doing, or drop a box of doughnuts off at the body shop. Maybe it’s just a good excuse to call a trusted skilled tradesman who has helped you and say “thanks.”

To work with one’s hands—to build something—has always been and should be commendable. With this resolution, we now have an official day to honor the hardworking tradesmen of Michigan. Please join me in celebrating tradesmen on Sept. 20 and on every National Tradesmen Day moving forward, and let’s encourage more of our young people to explore the skilled trades.

For more ideas and information about how to thank tradesmen, visit www.nationaltradesmenday.com.

Darwin L. Booher
State Senator – 35th District