Mamas, Please Tell Your Babies to Get Into the Trades

collection of plumbing materials including pipe, faucet handles and other bits and pieces

Things move more slowly in a small town. But when it comes to getting some work done at the house, they’re at a virtual crawl.

There’s one complete plumbing place in town. Our home’s previous owner had left their card on the fridge as a recommendation. We dropped in to see about getting estimates on a couple of jobs.
It was more than three weeks before anyone actually came to the house to check out the work. That was three weeks ago and we are still waiting for an estimate. I’m reluctant to book the jobs because of how long they might take. However, my inquiries at a couple of places in nearby Chatham have been met with crickets.

Our friend Jenn, who lives in London, recently ran into a similar situation while trying to upgrade a bathroom to make it safe for her Grandma who uses a walker. Phone calls weren’t returned. Her situation is urgent and frustrating.

So, what’s a Wallaceburger to do?

One problem is a shortage of qualified tradespeople. The owner of the Miracle Method franchise in London has closed shop and I suspect it’s partly due to a complaint he shared with me. He couldn’t find qualified people to work for him. He went to Fanshawe and trade schools and tried to find good employees but it was always a struggle.

The Handyman Connection seemed like a good idea, until we actually used the service. I convinced my brother to call them to get some repairs done at our parents’ home. THC is a network of supposedly experienced and professional trades-people but they scraped the bottom of the barrel to get the guy who did the work. He was sloppy, apathetic and rude. Perhaps he was just a bad apple but he soured us on the service.

It appears this is a trend that will take years to reverse. David Gough, writing in his Courier Press editorial, makes a great case for young people to go into a trade instead of, for example, taking on the debt of a university degree. Skilled, eager tradespeople will almost always have work. People are waiting and ready to hire them. I can think of a plumber who could make some money right now if they’d just commit to hanging out in our shower a little while and moving the plumbing for us!

4 thoughts on “Mamas, Please Tell Your Babies to Get Into the Trades”

  1. Just an idea Lisa….
    You might want to start up a neighbourhood/area Facebook group? We have one and its a great source to connect local tradespeople, handymen/women to get work and homeowners to find the right person for the job. You get recommendations, see comments etc.
    Recently I posted that I had a small job needed and I had 7 people sending me private messages to quote.
    We have an administrator and she works hard taking care of the site. She has set rules on the page such as must be in an area with boundaries set by her, you have to request to join, no private rants as its not your personal FB page etc. I’ve hired a lot of local people for jobs around my house. Its a great resource. I find I feel better hiring a local neighbour as they are less likely to screw you as we are all connected, people start to know each other etc.
    We also use the page to warn of scammers in the area, break in’s, lost pets etc.

    1. That’s a great idea Jean! There might even be such a page – I’ll go take a look. Thank you!

  2. Our son, who goofed off in high school, went to college for the millwright trade and graduated on the dean’s list. It was a slow start — no calls from the union for almost 1 year, then the work got steadier & he was able to prove himself. He had to have 8000 hours to get his ticket. Now he is a journeyman & a junior foreman. He has had steady raises & been sent to Las Vegas for school three times (all expenses paid!) He has to travel quite a bit to job sites and sometimes work long hours and many days in a row with the team to get a job done, so the machinery isn’t down for too long, but he likes his work. Isn’t that the most important thing?

    1. It certainly wasn’t an easy road for him. I’m glad he likes his work – that IS the goal!

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