Home Economy Blue-collar influencer: Gen Z sparks online interest in the trades

Blue-collar influencer: Gen Z sparks online interest in the trades

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(NewsNation) — Gen Z is bucking the system, putting away its textbooks and picking up tools to sign up for a trade.

Last year, the United States saw a 23% jump in students studying construction programs and a 16% jump in vocational programs. Trade schools often cost less than traditional colleges, and in many cases, you can get paid while you learn through various apprenticeships. Gen Z is at the center of this trade career Renaissance.

Carpenter and online influencer Matt Panella joined “NewsNation Now” to discuss why trade work appeals to the younger generation.


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Panella builds custom homes in central California.

“My grandfather started in the ’70s,” Panella said. “My dad took over, and I kind of got into the media side of it to showcase what we do. I think it’s really cool. Being able to take a pile of wood and turn it into someone’s dream home — it’s something that’s always fascinated me.”

Penella’s videos show how his builds develop from start to finish. He’s netted more than 1 billion views and had educational videos put into curricula, he said.

“People can get the same type of insight they would get on a job site, except for on YouTube,” he said.

Building a career in the trades isn’t as hard as some think, Panella added.

“Everybody is hiring right now,” he said. “You can call any contractor you want to. I would suggest finding somebody that has a credible business that you could step into and learn the trade, learn what you want to do. … If you don’t like what you do, you can bounce around to a different trade, and I think that’s the joy of the industry.

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