New ‘Skilled’ docuseries from 3M showcases the need for diverse and meaningful trade careers

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Global research shows nine in 10 agree more people should enter the trades; 3M commits to advocacy and education to expand the talent pipeline

3M is premiering a new documentary film, “Skilled,” to celebrate the skilled trades and break down stereotypes that may prevent people from pursuing these vital careers. “Skilled” features four trade workers—a plumber, fall protection specialist, welder, and film gaffer—at various stages in their careers and highlights the meaningful opportunities offered within the trades.

The film is debuting at 3M’s officially sanctioned 2023 Sundance Film Festival event—hosted by actress, director, and philanthropist Vivica A. Fox—and will be available for streaming on Apple TV+, Google Play, Kanopy, Prime Video and The Roku Channel on May 3.

“At 3M, we’re working to increase awareness around the variety of opportunities available in the trades and support students who choose these exciting career paths,” said James Momon, chief equity officer, 3M. “Skilled workers are vital to our global communities and economies. Because access to education and opportunity remains inequitable, we are focused on sharing ‘Skilled’ in classrooms and advancing our global commitment to create 5 million unique skilled trades and STEM learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025.”

In addition to this enterprise-level goal at 3M, the company’s Safety & Industrial Business Group (SIBG) will leverage its people, products, and community partnerships to advance equity in the skilled trades. To increase awareness of the skilled trades as a viable career, the business group is engaging underrepresented students and young adults interested in vocational training for jobs. SIBG is also actively identifying community partnerships that support skilled trade occupations their customers are working to fill, while connecting students and young adults to hands-on training and certification opportunities.

“Within SIBG, we’re on a mission to transform the way work gets done,” said Mike Vale, group president, 3M Safety and Industrial Business Group. “Our innovative products and solutions are an important part of that, but we also need to foster a transformative mindset in our people and the industries we serve. Supporting skilled trades will shape the future of work, grow the talent pool for critical jobs, and fulfill the pressing demands of the global economy.”

“Skilled” is designed to spark a conversation about the realities of the skilled trades and address stereotypes that may discourage people from pursuing them. It was inspired by 3M State of Science Index, a global original research study that confirms while skilled trade workers are widely respected, a majority believe there is a negative stigma around the trade professions. The study found nine in ten people believe more individuals would pursue a trade career if perceptions of the field improved. Additionally, 93% believe the skilled trade workforce needs more people and 92% see consequences if their country cannot find a solution to the shortage of workers, from declines in overall quality of life, to negative economic impact, neglected public infrastructure, and safety risks.

Misperceptions may arise from limited understanding of what careers are included in this field and the benefits these professions offer. By highlighting four tradespeople, “Skilled” showcases the diversity and breadth of trade jobs, and how workers can find personal fulfillment and professional success. The talented workers highlighted in the film include:

  • Paige Knowles, a 20-year-old plumber and author of the children’s book “Plumber Paige,” who hosts an all-girls construction camp during the summer.
  • Cedric Smith, a welder who attended technical school thanks in part to a 3M grant, who is driven, committed and passionate about his profession.
  • Anni Martinez, a gaffer at Amazonas Electricas, an all-female grip and electrical team bringing diversity to Mexico’s film industry.
  • Andrea Martin, a fall protection specialist at 3M, who was named one of the 2022 Top Women in Safety by Canadian Occupational Safety.

3M is also partnering with Teach For America, an organization committed to educational equity and excellence, to promote and screen “Skilled” in 2023. The film will be shown in classrooms led by Teach For America educators—reaching up to 30,000 students—and supported by discussion guides to facilitate open conversation about the skilled trades and the opportunities available.

“Skilled” was directed by documentary filmmaker Julio Palacio and produced by Christine Arena (“Let Science Speak,” “Not the Science Type”) of Generous Films and 3M. To learn more about “Skilled” visit “Skilled” is not an official selection of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, though 3M is a proud supporter of Sundance Institute.

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