Submitted by Barron Heating & Air Conditioning
“Where are you going to school? What are you going to study? What’s next after graduation?” These are the questions continually bombarding our youth these days. From well-intended advice from school counselors and parents to peers and the media, it’s been drummed into many of us as early as middle school that if you want to “succeed” in life, you start by going to college and getting a four-year degree.
This opinion, while common, is simply not the case. And as we come into a new year, it’s time to change the definition of “success” and how to achieve it.
While college can still be a great route to a career for many people, it’s not a guarantee. As the sticker price of a four-year degree keeps going up, the financial return is softening. Student loan debt in the United States is at an all-time high of nearly $1.77 trillion (investopedia.com), with the average cost of a bachelor’s degree now at nearly $103,000 (educationdata.org). That’s a staggering financial burden on students and their families, especially to take on before many have even earned their first professional paycheck.
For those looking for a different path, careers in the skilled trades are a huge opportunity that continues to be overlooked. While many of us associate the trades with jobs of our parents’ generation, they’re not going anywhere. Plumbers, HVAC Technicians, Electricians…these skilled jobs are in demand right now — big time. Baby Boomers are retiring at a rapid rate: for every five that vacate a position in the trades, just one person enters the field. 40% of the current 12 million people in the skilled trades workforce are over the age of 45, with nearly half of those workers over the age of 55. And just 9% of workers aged 19-24 are just entering the trades, proving the deficit we are facing now and into the future (peopleready.com).
The trades allow students to enter the workforce with little to no student loan debt and begin earning right away — often earning wages that are equal to or far more than those of university grads. And the wages of those jobs continue to increase as the shortage of workers grows. This labor deficit is real for service-based businesses like ours at Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing. People in our community want and deserve comfortable, healthy, and energy-efficient homes, and it is imperative for us to employ the best team possible to continue to provide that well into the future.
Dan L. Barron started Barron Heating 50 years ago with the goal to not only support our community with honest, quality service, but to support our employees and their families with rewarding, lifelong career opportunities. After Dan’s passing in December of 2018, it has become a priority to continue his legacy and traditions within the company. Dan’s son and grandson, John and Brad Barron, and the Barron Team wanted to honor him in a way that would give back to our employees and the community we call home.
The Dan L. Barron Trades Scholarship aims to provide opportunities to individuals looking to enter the HVAC/R, Electrical, or Plumbing trades and begin a successful career journey for themselves and their families. Barron will be providing two $5,000 scholarships to Bellingham Technical College: one to a current Barron employee or employee’s family member and one to a community member. There is no obligation to future employment with Barron to receive these scholarships — it is simply our way of encouraging and building up the ever-important and rewarding trades field.
In honor of Grandpa Dan, all of us at Barron are proud to support the trades and provide opportunities to our community. Applications for the Dan L. Barron Trades Scholarship may be submitted at https://www.barronheating.com/scholarship/ now through January 31, 2023. Here’s to a bright future for the industry and redefining success as we continue to live out our mission of Improving Lives™.