Every small town needs more plumbers.
I'm spending some time unplugged, but I scheduled this email to keep up our shared Positive View of Rural. 
This week, I wanted to share this idea from Tony Guidroz, Director of Economic Development from San Saba, Texas, (population 2,600). Tony came up with the idea for a Blue Collar Career Fair in 2012, and I think every small town needs to start one.
He is bringing heavy equipment operators, an HVAC contractor, a stone mason, a plumber, an electrician, a welder, etc., to be part of it. The professionals will do demonstrations and talks on these hands-on type careers. These are jobs that pay well and have high demand, but don’t require four years of college.

If your small town is like mine, you need more plumbers, electricians, truck drivers and all sorts of blue collar professionals. While some people kind of look down on people who work with their hands, I come from a family of hands-on folks. This is my brother:
My brother operating a backhoe

With the Blue Collar Career Fair, Tony’s hope is to grab the attention of some kids in San Saba who haven’t ever thought about these high-paying local jobs. There are 702 kids in the local school district, and 400+ are considered “at-risk” either because of grades or language barriers. So Tony wants to give them more choices and more chances to succeed locally.
All those careers I just listed will be featured with hands-on, move some dirt, burn some metal, strip some wire demonstrations. Lunch is going to be cooked and served by another hands-on class given by the school nutritionist that day. 
I don’t know about you, but I think this sounds like a lot more fun than the “normal” career fair. Don’t you know lots of kids will get excited about getting their hands on real equipment, for jobs that are within their reach? I mean, who doesn’t want to play with a skid steer loader or a welder?
I'd love to hear about how your community is reaching out to connect kids with jobs in your rural area. Since I'm out of town, the best way is to leave your comments on this post: Blue Collar Career Fair

At the same meeting where I heard about the Blue Collar Career Fair, this question was posed: Is your workforce is both your biggest strength and your biggest weakness?
On one hand, rural people are loyal and hard-working. On the other hand, the lack of available skilled workers is often a major problem. Read what Brenham, Texas, decided to do about it: What to do when your workforce is both your biggest strength and your biggest weakness


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