Hi, I’m Evelyn.

My grandfather drove a truck for a living, transporting goods to new job sites every day. My father assisted with creating products for businesses that range from a cheese company to the world-renowned Airstream. Most of my uncles and cousins and my brother devote their professional life to manufacturing and the skilled trades. And I paid my way through a college education by working within manufacturing, and even after earning a college degree, I champion manufacturing and skilled trades through my writing.

In a nutshell, I am biased.

The most exceptional human beings and significant contributors to the person I am today found their professional home in the manufacturing and skilled trades arenas. To be honest, many of the skilled trades professionals in my life completed more work-related education than those who finish a four-year degree. Skilled trades-bound youth often complete two years of career-based training while in high school. They then earn a specialized certification and continue to maintain and, sometimes, increase their specialization-level with further training. Skilled trades do not suggest less education, and they certainly do not suggest less intelligence.

Just as I hold in high esteem my manufacturing and skilled trades loved-ones, they keep me, baccalaureate and master’s degree recipient, in the highest regard. This circle of love, support, respect, and admiration within my family for each person’s respective gifts and the journey taken to explore and elevate those gifts is why I’m baffled by the idea that a college education is somehow the ideal, desired path post-high school. To me, every choice after high school is simply that- a choice. An option may be better or worse for you as a person, due to your specific strengths and aspirations, but not in general.

These are not fluff-words spoken half-heartedly. No. These words come from someone who worked for Associated Industries of Kentucky (AIK), now the Kentucky Association of Manufacturing (KAM). As AIK’s Program Specialist, I created post-high school programs designed to encourage a love of manufacturing and skilled trades. After working with AIK, traveling around Kentucky to technical schools and high schools and spending time with state lobyists who considered bills that directly affected manufacturing, I earned a master’s degree in College Student Personnel, specializing in academic advising. I worked as a college advisor for over a decade, and like my time with AIK, I loved every second of it. If you doubt my heart and my words for a moment, you need only look at my resume to see that I’ve passionately worked to be a part of ALL post-high school opportunities for youth and anyone contemplating a career change.

There is no denying that manufacturing and skilled trades leave an imprint on the world. They are deemed essential during the COVID-19 global pandemic and are responsible for the world’s infrastructure as we know it. So the next time you discuss post-high school options with youth or are throwing around career options for yourself, remember the opportunity within the manufacturing and skilled trades arenas and revere them as you do other post-high school opportunities.

Make a point to thank someone for working within manufacturing and skilled trades. In a world of change, they are our constant supports. In a world that seems to place a college education on a higher pedestal, they are the thankless warriors who built the college graduates’ stage and who are responsible for the printers that produce the college diplomas.

Hi, I’m Evelyn. And I am unbelievably proud to be even the smallest voice in the manufacturing and skilled trades movement devoted to placing these career options on the pedestal they deserve.

Author: Evelyn Lindell