A recent article in The Age newspaper has highlighted the changing perceptions in society of trade jobs.
Sydney-based author and columnist Elizabeth Farrelly, who holds a PhD in architecture, says back in her grandfathers’ day, when one became a post-and-telegraph boy and the other a painter and decorator, trades had no status.
“Both highly intelligent, they lived good and useful lives but, because usefulness itself was sullied by the un-education that trapped them into it, theirs were not regarded as lives to emulate,” she wrote.
It was an era, she says, where it was as though usefulness itself was despised.
Her article, “There’s no joy in the professions: how tradies have it made” draws a connection between the “disdain for use” and society’s underlying attitude to physical work.
“It’s okay, for example, for an educated person to work 10 hours in a windowless office then drive the Lexus thus funded to an equally synthetic gym for the day’s exercise. But it’s not okay for that person to get the same (or better) cross-training by working as a brickie,” writes Farrelly.
But, she declares, these “old distinctions no longer serve us well. Working blue-collar doesn’t necessarily imply under-education”.
Farrelly discusses the value of education and the benefits it delivers all of us and that the question of what you do for a living is an entirely separate matter.
“And the truth is,” she declares, “making stuff is fun. Like, really, deep-satisfying fun.”
Farrelly says modernism has taken us “too far from the ground” and that “increasing abstraction leaves us craving the real – yearning to engage more fully with the house-making and food-growing that planetary life entails”.
It’s why, she says, there is interest from young professionals in pickling parties, hand-writing tuition and ceramic courses.
Having taken on the task at her home of waterproofing a retaining wall, she said doing “real stuff is cool” and if she had her choice again, “I’d be a tradie”.
If you are interested in a skilled career and exploring whether doing an apprenticeship is for you, contact PEER.