PASSIONATE PLEA: Sheet metal leader urges parents to consider skilled trades
Everywhere you look across Ohio, the need for skilled trades workers is abundant. From the construction and building industries to health care, automotive and esthetics, skilled jobs are plentiful and at an all-time high demand. Although so much is being done to bring light to the fulfilling careers available, it seems there is still a disconnect. And many leaders in the skilled trades know why.
“The one thing all of us can do is support and promote the skilled trades as much as possible to parents,” shared A. Eugene Frazier II, Training Director at Sheet Metal Workers Local 24 in Dayton. “This is a better choice for some of our kids; better than anything else out there.” He added with humor, “And then parents can know their kids won’t be 26 years old and still playing video games in their basements.”
“Lack of knowledge and misconceptions about the trades can lead parents to steer their kids away from these programs, when vocational training might be a surer path to a stable job,” according to Meg St. Esprit with The Atlantic. “If students are exposed to the possibility of vocational training early on, that might help remove some of the stigma, and help students and parents alike see a variety of paths to a successful future.”
Why industry and school partnership matters
For decades, SkillsUSA Ohio has been working with business and industry throughout the state to change the narrative surrounding careers in the skilled trades. One of these valuable relationships is with the Dayton Sheet Metal Workers. As a training director, Frazier’s job is to help students and parents understand the rewarding job path of a journeyman.
“I work with so many awesome programs across the state—Miami Valley CTC, Upper Valley CC, Green County, Warren County, Springfield CTC and Stebbins High School, just to name a few,” shared Frazier. Working with SkillsUSA Ohio advisors and students in these high schools and tech schools, Frazier is able to access “a statewide pool of future sheet metal apprentices we can recruit.” The Skills partnership also allows him to “meet and greet Career Center leaders, and students’ parents to get our important message out in front of them, as early as possible.”
The Skills edge
Industries in need of skilled workers stick with SkillsUSA partnership for the long haul because they see the payoff immediately. “In our eyes, it is the best proving grounds for individuals to start a successful career with us or another skilled field, straight from the career center and with the right attitude for future work,” said Frazier. “Skills also provides the baseline work ethic and professionalism you cannot get from any other school program in the country.”
The past few years, Frazier has eagerly coordinated the Sheet Metal and Welding Sculpture SkillsUSA Ohio contests with seven of his counterparts from the Sheet Metal Workers’ Apprenticeship programs from all over Ohio and in West Virginia. He and his fellow Training Directors get to know the students and advisors from many different chapters. Ultimately, it’s a big win as they are able to recruit students for their apprenticeships. “Every year, we hire apprentices straight from the schools and graduates from all over the state. It’s an easy process, as even at a young age these students know what they want to do,” shared Frazier.
A passion for the partnership
Frazier doesn’t mince words when it comes to how he feels about the Skills program. “SkillsUSA Ohio kicks a**! I would have to say they do an unbelievable job given the amount they put into this. I can only say, AWESOME JOB, OHIO!”
Although Frazier is coming close to the end of his working career as the Sheet Metal Worker’s Apprenticeship Training Director, he’s not about to stop his work with SkillsUSA Ohio. “I can say without a shadow of a doubt, in some form or fashion I will continue my efforts to market the Skills programs to students, advisors and parents as I move forward.”
Mr. A. Eugene Frazier II serves as Training Director at Sheet Metal Workers Local 24 Dayton Area JATC. He can be reached at 937-898-7676 or DaytonAppr@smw24.net. Learn more about apprenticeships at https://www.smw24.net/, www.facebook.com/smart24dayton and https://www.sheetmetal-iti.org/. And, check out this video about a day in the life of a Sheet Metal Worker.