Generation NEXT meets TOH at JLC Live
At last weekend's building conference, tomorrow’s tradespeople got answers to lots of questions
A packed audience of nearly 100 vocational and technical high school students wearing blue “I am the Future” T-shirts attended a panel hosted by This Old House at the JLC Live conference in Providence, RI, last Friday, eager to learn about working in the trades.
TOH host Kevin O’Connor served as emcee, and TOH panelists included plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, home builder Jeff Sweenor, JLC Editor-in-Chief Clayton DeKorne, carpenter Aaron Butt, and GenNEXT apprentice-turned-Ask This Old House crew member Nathan Gilbert.
The audience had lots of questions, from whether you need a college degree to make a living (the building trades are desperate for workers, no college degree required); what attributes employers most value in new workers (“I’ll take a good attitude over skill any day of the week,” said Jeff Sweenor. “Skills can be learned, but I need to know a person has a good character”); what mistakes to avoid (don’t be late to work); and how to decide which trade to pursue (“Start working in an environment with a general contractor so you see many facets of the work, and then you will figure out what you like best,” said Jeff Sweenor. Richard Trethewey was more direct: “The world needs plumbers!”).
The blue “I am the Future” T-shirts were a joint effort of TOH and JLC Live as a way to spotlight young people who are interested in pursuing the trades; the idea was that any building professional attending the show should be willing to answer questions from the “blue shirts” to help them get a better idea of what lies ahead. JLC Live is a conference founded by The Journal of Light Construction with a focus on building products; it also features live demonstrations of new building techniques.