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 Read more
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 3M.com/Skilled. “Skilled” is not an official selection of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, though 3M is a proud supporter of Sundance Institute.
Dating back to the early 1900s with his great grandfather, you could say that plumbing runs in Bobby Drescher Jr.’s blood. Drescher (@theplumberlorian on IG), alongside his brother, has run a family-owned and operated plumbing service and repair company since 2005, which was started by Drescher’s father. Drescher started in the plumbing trade as a Read more
Dating back to the early 1900s with his great grandfather, you could say that plumbing runs in Bobby Drescher Jr.’s blood. Drescher (@theplumberlorian on IG), alongside his brother, has run a family-owned and operated plumbing service and repair company since 2005, which was started by Drescher’s father.
Drescher started in the plumbing trade as a part-time apprentice while he was attending college, and once he graduated, he decided against pursuing a career with the Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications he obtained, and became a full-time, licensed journeyman plumber, eventually getting his Master Plumbing license. “I learned most of my skills from working alongside my father as an apprentice; from there it was a matter of repetition and different experiences on the job that eventually led to me getting my journeyman’s and feeling 100% comfortable running a service truck on my own. I later got my master’s and here we are over 16 years later.”
Family is a big part of who Drescher is, and it’s also what keeps him grounded. “I have a loving wife, and two beautiful boys whom I hope to pass down my skills to when they are old enough. I enjoy what I do every day, but for me, it’s not just about the work I do, but also the people I get to meet and help along the way,” says Drescher.
Drescher says it’s always tough to keep a good work/family life balance. “If there’s work related stuff I need to discuss at home, I’ll get that out of the way usually once I get home, but for the rest of the evening I focus on my family, while trying to stay engaged with my wife and kids. I’m all for working late from time to time to get the job done, but you definitely have to find balance. The kids are only young once, and I intend on being there for them and my wife as much as I can,” says Drescher.
And it’s that family unit that has helped Drescher throughout his plumbing career. Drescher owes a lot to his father and his brother, both of whom have guided and helped him. “My father would be my biggest mentor in and out of the trade for sure, being a licensed master plumber himself,” says Drescher. “My brother, too and that’s weird to say because he’s my younger brother, but we grew up learning the plumber trade together, and we bounce ideas/tips off each all the time, which is always helpful.”
Does Drescher consider himself a mentor for others? He does now, chuckles Drescher. “I started the Instagram account to blog my journey, but over just a matter of months, I’ve had a dozen or so reach out to me saying they love what I’m doing on social media and that it’s inspiring. It always catches me off guard when I hear that and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. I want to reach more people on here, not just those in the trade already.”
Drescher has met a lot of amazing people on social media, and he admits he was a “babe in the woods” starting off, yet he was fortunate to have a few people who supported what I was doing right in the beginning. “I have made some solid friends for sure. A few that I talk to on a daily basis, which is so awesome. I have also picked up a few tips and tricks as well from other plumbers on here. I think that’s one of the coolest things from a trades’ standpoint is that we can share with others so easily things we have learned.”
And while Drescher’s most trusted tools on the truck are his torch, pliers and tape measure, “it’s great that some of these tool brands and others I have used for years are so engaged with their audience. That’s another positive of social media, that it gives them a way to interact with their users, whether it’s just purely for entertainment purposes or their trying to shed some light on a new tool or product. I’ve had the opportunity of having some of my videos shared, which is always great.”
Speaking of social media, the handle @theplumberlorian is such a cool name. “Well, I am a plumber, and a big fan of The Mandalorian. I also can relate a lot to the main character Din or “Mando” in the show. It’s twofold for me: here you have this guy who goes on missions each episode and somehow the mission goes sideways at some point. Being a service plumber, I can definitely relate to that. I’m sure other trades can as well. Some jobs go smoothly from start to finish, but then there’s others that aren’t that way at all,” says Drescher.
“The important thing is to have the knowledge for when they aren’t straightforward missions, and you can adapt to the changes in front of you. Mando also becomes sort of a father figure to Grogu, this child-like creature he stumbles upon, and being a father myself, there are some scenes that choke me up because in the end, there’s nothing we wouldn’t do to keep our kids safe. He’s a relatable character for a lot of people, and I think that’s why the show is as popular as it is. This is the way.”
In the end, Drescher says the plumbing industry needs to do a better job attracting people to the trade; there’s a negative picture painted of blue-collar work by a lot of people who pass it down to their children. “It starts in the home really and it’s a tough nut to crack for some. I’ve met plenty of people who have a positive viewpoint of the trades, but I’ve met others that acted as if it’s beneath them,” says Drescher.
Drescher says that social media is one outlet for individuals to show blue collar work can be cool, and show a different side of things. “I’ve had so many people reach out to me that I inspire them. Which is crazy to hear, and never gets old. Some have been in their trade for years, others just starting out. That’s what keeps me going, just knowing that maybe I’m making a difference on there. We need more people out there investing in our youth and keeping a positive spin on the job,” says Drescher.
But it starts in the home. What picture are the parents painting, asks Drescher? “College isn’t the only option, and it may not even be the best option for some so why keep pushing it on your kids? Because that’s what they have stamped in their brain. We have to reach them somehow and change that line of thinking.”
Drescher went the college route because that’s what society was pushing on him, but it’s not for everyone. “You can have a successful life going into the trades, and I will always be an advocate of that,” says Drescher.
You have passed your plumbing qualification and it’s time to find a job. Or, you have decided to start your own company. Either way, amazing news. When you are starting out as a plumber, there are some obvious things you need like uniforms, tools, and more than knowledge on how plumbers unclog drains. But, we Read more
You have passed your plumbing qualification and it’s time to find a job. Or, you have decided to start your own company. Either way, amazing news. When you are starting out as a plumber, there are some obvious things you need like uniforms, tools, and more than knowledge on how plumbers unclog drains. But, we bet there are items you might forget about other business essentials that can maximize your work and results.
As a plumber, you will need protective wear for health and safety reasons. Aside from a hard hat, a face covering is a good idea.
You can wear a Choob to protect you from dust and bacteria while on the job. These are multi-functional, so you can wear them for other purposes. However, they are ideal for plumbers. They cause no fuss and they are tight to the face and won’t fall down while you are mid-task.
Having business cards is a great way to get repeat customers. When you have finished the job, you can leave them your business card with your details on so that they can get back in touch with you for future projects.
If you leave behind a few spare business cards, then they can hand them out to their friends and family so that you can attain more customers.
Speaking of attaining customers, a website is an ideal marketing tool to attract new customers. Having your name online will grow brand awareness and allow more customers to discover your plumbing business.
On the website, you can include contact information and prices. You could also offer a booking system so that customers can book a consultation easily without waiting for you to pick up the phone.
Having a website will also put you higher up on the search rankings. Although your plumbing business and contact details might be in an online directory, it can be lost in the sea of other businesses. Ensure to use good keywords so that customers can find you for specific projects. Furthermore, make sure that it is easy to navigate and a user-friendly website so that customers won’t get frustrated and lose interest.
When you are handling tools, it is essential to wear safety gloves. These will protect you in the case of an incident. You may often handle saws, drills, and chemicals, which can harm the skin.
Rubberized gloves are great to protect you against electricity. Having gloves at hand will ensure that you can always be safe, no matter what job you are doing.
A mode of transportation
It’s all well and good having the uniform and tools, but it would help to easily be able to get to and from jobs. Having your own mode of transport gives you the freedom to drive around from job to job. You can maximize your business by having a van or car, as you will be able to meet the needs of further away customers.
If the vehicle is just for business, it can help to add personal branding and contact details. It will act like a moving mode of marketing, which many will notice and remember.
When Jonathan Cheever snowboards in World Cup races this winter, he has the Viega logo on his uniform. When he installs hot water heaters this summer, he’ll have Viega fittings in his toolbox. Viega LLC is stoked to announce its sponsorship of Jonathan Cheever, a 2018 Olympian and a 14-year member of the U.S. Snowboard Read more
When Jonathan Cheever snowboards in World Cup races this winter, he has the Viega logo on his uniform. When he installs hot water heaters this summer, he’ll have Viega fittings in his toolbox. Viega LLC is stoked to announce its sponsorship of Jonathan Cheever, a 2018 Olympian and a 14-year member of the U.S. Snowboard Team as a snowboard cross racer. Jonathan is also a licensed journeyman plumber who supports himself in the off-season installing water heaters and plumbing bathrooms.
“Jonathan is a natural fit for Viega. In addition to being a world-class athlete, he understands the challenges and rewards of plumbing. When he endorses a product, it’s because it’s proven to be the best performer,” said Molly Morrow, channel marketing manager for Viega.
“I’ve been using Viega fittings since I began working as a plumber in 2004,” Jonathan said. “I’m proud to have the company as a sponsor and to spread the word about its fittings and pressing systems. Snowboard cross is all about speed and Viega fittings make every job faster and easier.”
This winter Jonathan is competing in the FIS Snowboard World Cup, which started in Austria this month and will conclude in March in the Czech Republic. He is racing for the United States as an independent athlete.
To support himself in the off season he works as a plumber out of Park City, Utah, where he’s done jobs for teammates and coaches. He also sometimes returns in the summer to his hometown of Saugus, Mass., to work with his father and brother, who own Mark Cheever Plumbing & Heating.
“Snowboarding is my passion but, for me, plumbing is more than just a way to make a buck,” Jonathan said. “I like the challenge of figuring out the best way to solve a problem and improving people’s lives.”
Jonathan also advocates for people to enter the skilled trades, which face a shortage of workers.
“Plumbing and the other trades offer exciting work, job security and good pay without the crippling student loan debt that often comes with a four-year college education,” he said. “It’s a rewarding career path more young people should consider.”