Letter: Skill matters, not just dirt

Re: Ingrid Jacques’ May 29 column, “Don’t discount dirty jobs”: There are so many Mike Rowes out there in the real world doing the so-called dirty work and feeding their families because of the demand of the trade. But we need many more skilled trade professionals because in the real world there will be clogged water traps, loose shingles and fallen tree limbs that need to be fixed.

I’ve done both white collar work assisting Michigan’s unemployed and now I take care of car and truck customers with their recall and warranty concerns. In the past I was proudly employed as a professional painter, which enabled me to learn facets of multiple residential building trades and as a general contractor I built my own home.

If it weren’t for the skilled trade knowledge acquired in more than three decades, I’d find it hard to afford to work in the ‘professional’ customer service sector where the pay equals a hardship, especially for my younger colleagues struggling to pay off their college loans.

I will always praise my higher power for giving me a maternal grandfather from Sicily who always insisted, when I was 40 years younger, that I stay with my painting trade. He always told me “once a person learns a skilled trade, there’s nobody who can take that away.” It’s a life lesson that needs to be shared with youths searching for a career path who want to make the right decision on how to survive in our tough and gritty working world.

Kenneth Hreha, Dryden