Increase Exposure to Specialty Construction Trades

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Ryan Burks

NEW ORLEANS – As the population grows, so does the need for workers in specialty trades. Population expansion demands an expanded infrastructure with essential necessities such as heating and cooling, electrical power, and shelter—a roof over our heads. Despite the importance of these necessities, the country suffers from a drastic shortage of skilled tradesmen that can satisfy society’s demand. Over the decades, our society has foolishly demeaned skilled labor, “blue collar” jobs, causing the shortage we now suffer from.

Today’s youth and young professionals have been ill-served by a longtime focus on four-year colleges and tech jobs as the path to “success.” Unfortunately, not all youth are university material. Furthermore, many four-year colleges and universities are not properly preparing students for the workforce.

It’s critical to note that those that are highly skilled within the trade crafts can enjoy as comfortable a lifestyle—if not more comfortable—as some university graduates. Pay rates after four years of skilled labor training typically exceed that of most bachelor’s degree graduates, and the skills learned are more resistant to market fluctuations. Additionally, these tradesmen often escape the burden of today’s crushing student loan debt.

The workforce is experiencing a large influx of young adults that have either started college and didn’t finish or never began and have wasted four to six years of prime training time without the development of a marketable skill.

Together, let’s end the delusional thinking that has driven the decrease in skilled, specialty tradesmen. By reintroducing specialty trade training back to middle and high schools, we can normalize the important, meaningful skill of working with one’s hands and give our children the exposure they need to be better prepared adults.


By Ryan E. Burks, president of RYCARS Construction, LLC

RYCARS Construction, LLC is a regional specialty contractor with a core competency in commercial roofing applications.  Its mission is to provide excellent, professional construction services specifically related to the building envelope integrity.Since March of 2002, Burks has led RYCARS Construction, LLC in completing over $125 million in commercial roofing and construction projects for over 80 different customers, in multiple types of facilities such as healthcare, multi-family, institutional, hotel, water treatment facilities and military bases. The company has completed high profile projects such as the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.



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