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IEC Chesapeake is working to move apprenticeship students to an alternative method of instruction and will notify students of their revised schedule shortly. Questions can be directed to Joe Harber at 301.621.9545 x106 or Ed Hersl at 301.621.9545 x107. For updates on COVID-19 please visit


IEC Chesapeake Logo-35 Years

Why the Choice Should be Craftsman or College- Not Versus

high school student

This is not a new discussion- it has been around awhile-and been written about a LOT in the last five years. However now it has more urgency behind it than in the past.

Why? Because millennials are a very different audience for us to reach out to; we are struggling with reaching them. Millennials are also struggling. Period. Full stop.

Don’t believe it? Many journalists are focusing on this issue, most recently both the Christian Science Monitor and the LA Times (For Millennials Financial Security May Be Out of Reach).

  • Millennials typically make 20% less than their parents did at the same stage of life, and though they are strong savers as a population, they are not investors.
  • Possibly are largest generation to date seeing the American dream as a pipe dream- not happening.
  • Millennials who started working at the time of the last recession cannot get caught up. Many, unemployed during that time, have lost the chance to make up that income and are still entering at lower rungs on the job and wage ladder.

They are young, and still have time to change course if they choose, and the electrical industry, both the Sales/Distribution side of the house and the Contractor side of the house, wish they would take a strong look at our professions.

I’ve written about it before- and will again- because it’s a drum I will not stop beating.  As a culture, and as a country, we need to fairly offer Craftsman as well as College opportunities to our middle and high school students. We need to start yesterday….

Though it may sting, and may be hard for parents as well, unemployed millennials, or those with degrees who are serving coffee (unless that’s really what you want to do…) seriously ought to consider if there is a trade apprenticeship, an Earn While You Learn, opportunity that is right for their skills and interests.

High school students, like the 100+ that will visit our headquarter in February...which is also National Career and Technical Education Month, should absolutely be given the clear options and information to make the most of their futures. They should be encouraged to weigh out the options without being made to feel as though the choice of Craftsman is “settling” or in any way second to College.

This needs to stop being a Craftsman versus College conversation. Now.

Boomers are quickly aging out, and huge gaps are occurring in the trades. You can’t work your way up in a corporate world that hasn’t been built; has no plumbing or electricity, no low voltage wiring for your communications and equipment.

You certainly don’t want to enter a building that hasn’t been built or powered by the best in the industry. Or drive across an expansion bridge that has been built or powered by the best. The demands are there and the Trades will be needed country wide to meet those demands.

Craftsman, the Trades, can solve your financial dilemma Millennials, and can point you High Schoolers toward a life of learning, earning, and a truly bright future.

Are you listening to our message?

Many of the current articles blame the “lack of resources”. I get it. If we are not invited to speak to you in high school, and your counselors are not encouraged to promote us as an option alongside college, then you WON’T know about us as a resource.

So I’m reaching out to the American culture: are you ready to give real world options and let go of your antiquated and silly, 19th century attitudes about the Trades?

Parents: will you encourage high school counselors to present ALL viable options, and make sure successful, fully accredited apprenticeship programs get a fair shake at speaking to all kids while they are in high school?

Local, state, and federal governments: are you ready to really assist helping people get to work? Workforce Development and apprenticeship resources need your support and attention.

Millennials: you seem very open minded and creative. If you’re not happy where you are and feel motivated to consider real change, look at a Craftsman re-boot.

The Trades are here, waiting for you, and we have the four-year education you need.

Grant Shmelzer


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