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In U.S., trade jobs remain stigmatized and low-wage workers qualify for better paying jobs

September 29, 2021


As the American economy recovers from the worst impacts of the pandemic, questions remain about the labor force and the problems that plagued the economy even prior to the start of COVID-19. In the eighth and final installment of our “Work Shift” series, Paul Solman recaps what we’ve learned.


Five Facts

  • Who is unable to fill high paying jobs right now, according to this piece?
  • What are some of the reasons these jobs might be going unfilled?
  • When did a labor shortage in trade professions start to become a problem?
  • Why do the students in this piece say they haven’t considered trade professions?
  • How has the pandemic affected workers in the trades, according to this piece?

Focus Questions

  1. Why do you think high paying jobs in the trades such as plumbing and electrical engineering are going unfilled? What would be some ways to make these jobs more attractive to young people?
  2. Do you think the focus in many traditional high schools on getting into colleges is misguided? Why or why not?
  3. What do you think of. Adrienne Bennett and Tonya Hicks and made the who talk about the discrimination and sexism they faced
  4. Who is Mike Rowe and what do you think was the driving purpose of the show Dirty Jobs?

Media literacy:

*What data or information do you think this piece could have provided that would give viewers a better sense of the size and scope of the problem with unfilled trade jobs?

For More

  • You can find more of NewsHour’s “Work Shift” series here.
  • You can read this story for more information on the need for tradespeople and watch this segment here: