Signing ceremonies are a common occurrence this time of year when students graduate from high school and college and begin taking their next steps into the larger world. They are usually attended by the press, indicating that a student has decided to play for a college or professional sports team.
Jacob Bradley made news last month at an unusual signing ceremony indicating he intends to go full time right out of high school, but not with sports — at a plumbing company.
Bradley graduated from Montgomery County High School in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, and he has been working part-time at Fast Flow Plumbing in Lexington since he met Fast Flow’s owner, Ben Crum, at a career day at his high school earlier in the school year. By signing his letter of intent to work at Fast Flow full-time, Bradley joins a trade with a long tradition of growing young apprentices into skilled tradespeople and business owners.
I love to see this kind of attention on America’s trade skills, and celebration of the American worker. My grandfather was an autoworker, who worked with his hands to make his living, and decades of my ancestors worked the trades. When it came time to start my own business, I looked at the world of trash, and I wasn’t afraid to enter what was known as a very tough industry.
Seeing young people inspired to go into the trades gives me hope that the future will be bright. Working in the trades, many companies will pay for education on top of a salary, and tradespeople enter their careers without the crippling student debt that overshadows a lot of other careers. On top of that, as tradespeople grow and learn, they often start their own businesses, becoming local employers.
Events like Montgomery County High School’s career day and Bradley’s signing ceremony celebrate that the trades are a clear path to success. I hope more young people take inspiration from Bradley’s achievements and open their eyes to the world of opportunities offered by the skilled trades.
Kudos to Jacob Bradley for opening eyes and minds to the exciting world of skilled trades, and kudos to Ben Crum for recruiting a future star in the world of plumbing.