For the first time in its 300 year history, Mobile is buzzing as a beachhead for high-tech companies as well as emerging incubators attracting entrepreneurs in droves. That said, it was surprising to hear that the average age of skilled tradesmen — plumbers, masons, electricians and others — is nearly 50 years old.

Noted from only one local contractor is that a half-billion dollar’s worth of work will be stymied for them in 2016, 2017 and beyond due to a major skilled trade labor pool deficit. It may potentially hamstring significant development in both Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

In this episode we talked with John White-Spunner of White-Spunner Construction and Larry Mouton with the Mobile County Public School System about the dire need to reinvigorate interest in the trades — ignored locally for the past decade by Millennials, GenZ and parents — and revisiting the paradigm of relying on universities as the primary path to respectable, successful careers for today’s youth.

In this “hands-on” episode we discuss:
3:08 — Six-figure incomes available in trades. Potential recession-proof career paths available. Percentage of companies now hiring in the trades.
4:05 — Surprising average age of skilled workers in the local job market. Drop-off in social status pursuing trade careers over the past decade and why.
6:02 — Efforts by Superintendent Martha Peak and others in the MCPSS school system to educate students on the skilled trade career path.
11:37 — Five projects; half a billion dollars worth of work on White-Spunner projects in the area. Related multiplier effect in the residential housing market and others.
13:23 — How the skilled trade field can be a “sexy art form” per producer Johnny G. Who’s eaten first when society crumbles in the next zombie apocalypse.
15:55 — Other sites available to access info on skilled trade careers, for mid-career professionals interested in online research.
19:33 — Mouton’s explanation of “Wall to Wall Academies” as well as the evolution of the perceived marginalization of skilled trade careers for children, parents and families.

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Thanks for listening and keep Mobile funky.

Lagniappe’s Real Deal Podcast is produced in collaboration with Deep Fried Studios.