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Input Stories

Influencers Make Blue-Collar Cool

Gen Z plumbers and construction workers are sparking new interest in trade work, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s happening: Young blue-collar workers are sharing their experiences on social media sites like TikTok, broadening awareness of careers like plumbing and construction and drawing in additional young workers who might not otherwise have considered these roles. As Gen Z workers document their experiences, more and more people are tuning in.

Recasting assumptions: These Gen Z influencers are also showing the ways that blue-collar jobs run against popular assumptions, offering the potential for well-paid careers and providing good opportunities for men and women alike.

  • “Many posts tout the wages blue-collar workers can make. Pay for new hires in construction now outstrips pay for new hires in professional services like accounting, according to ADP data. Skilled-trade influencers say they’re also trying to combat decades of stereotypes in which practitioners were seen as grease monkeys or stuck in low-end careers.”

An increasing market: The number of students who are enrolled in a vocational-focused community college increased by a full 16% in 2023—reaching the highest mark since 2018, when the National Student Clearinghouse first began recording data on the subject.

  • The popularity of these programs has grown as students seek out career options that will leave them with less debt and the potential to be their own boss.

Our take: “We’ve long said that the best ambassadors for our sector are the young people who are thriving in manufacturing careers today, whether the voices are our current FAME earn-and-learn students, or the role models from the Women MAKE Awards or those featured in Creators Stories as part of the MI and NAM’s Creators Wanted campaign,” said Manufacturing Institute President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “These influencers are living proof that there are many pathways to opportunities and family-supporting careers.”

Our work: The NAM and the MI are always working to show young people the benefits of a career in modern manufacturing. Manufacturers can join us in that work on MFG Day 2024 , advancing the message of the PR News award-winning Creators Wanted campaign.

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