Photo 210428058 © Josieelias |
Dreamstime M 210428058 65037bacd8bb1

The Future of The Trades is Being Threatened by Gen Z

Sept. 14, 2023
Jobber’s first annual Blue-Collar Report finds parental pressure, social stigma make Gen Z hesitant to pursue trade careers.

TORONTO, ONT, CANADA — Jobber, a leading provider of operations management software for home service businesses, has unveiled the Blue-Collar Report: Gen Z and the Uncertain Future of the Trades. The report, based on survey responses from 1,000 U.S.-based high-school and recent post high-school aged individuals (18-20), explores Gen Z’s views toward higher education, trade careers, entrepreneurship, artificial intelligence (AI), and job security. 

Skills gaps and labor shortages are growing across numerous industries that are vital to keeping our homes and communities safe and society running smoothly. However, businesses in industries like HVAC, residential cleaning, plumbing, lawn care, and landscaping are having trouble attracting new talent, especially among the younger population. Jobber’s Blue-Collar Report digs into the mindset of Gen Z to uncover the root of this alarming trend and provides data from its more than 200,000 service pros and testimonials from its customers to debunk several misconceptions about the trades. 

An Economy in Jeopardy

The stigma around blue-collar work is putting the future generation of job seekers, homeowners, and the economy in jeopardy. According to the report, 74% of respondents note there is a stigma associated with going to a vocational school over attending a traditional four-year university. This combined with the fact that nearly 8 out of 10 (79%) respondents say their parents want them to pursue a college education after high school is creating immense pressure for Gen Z to pursue a traditional white-collar career path while incurring large amounts of debt that they are concerned with repaying.

“If we don’t educate society about the high value of trade work and the significant opportunities that exist in the field, the labor shortages we are seeing today will reach critical levels, resulting in a potentially catastrophic outcome for local economies and communities,” said Sam Pillar, CEO and co-founder of Jobber. “We’ve seen countless people ditch desk jobs to start their own businesses, which is an incredible thing to do. These people earn more and have more control over their time, all while doing meaningful work. Going to a vocational school or starting a business doing blue-collar work should be encouraged, supported, and celebrated. Jobber is committed to changing the perception of blue-collar work and inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Key Findings

Key findings from the report demonstrate clear links between what Gen Z desires for their careers and what trade careers offer. While there’s tentative interest among Gen Z to attend vocational school, pressure from their parents and the stigma associated with blue-collar work may be stopping them. 

  • Gen Z wants little student debt and strong job security but risks ending up with neither in the age of AI.
    • 75% of respondents say they are interested in exploring vocational schools that offer paid, on-the-job training.
    • When it comes to AI, 56% of respondents believe that “blue-collar” jobs have more job security than “white-collar” desk jobs. 
  • Gen Z is a generation of entrepreneurs who are missing valuable opportunities.
    • Nearly two-thirds of respondents want to start a business at some point in their lives and 11% already have.
    • 41% of respondents are most interested in starting a business that either doesn’t require formal training or has low upfront costs. Residential cleaning, power washing, and lawn maintenance businesses are examples of trade careers that fit this criteria.
  • Gen Z is unaware about the earning potential of certain trade and home service work.
    • The majority of respondents don’t believe that tree maintenance, landscaping, residential cleaning, and plumbing businesses can earn over $1 million in revenue per year, but this is not the case. For example, 60% of tree care businesses and 65% of landscaping businesses earn $1 million or more per year.  

“I was 13 years old when I started my lawn care and landscaping business, using my dad’s tractor to transport myself from job to job,” said Chase Gallagher, owner of CMG Landscaping based in Chester County, PA. “When I turned 16 and got my driver’s license, I worked on my business full time. Focusing on that instead of going to college allowed me to build a multi-million dollar venture in a few short years—while my peers are just now graduating college and trying to find jobs and paying off their student debt. If you invest into a blue-collar business, you can make hundreds of thousands in profit per year and grow into millions. It’s truly an endless opportunity for young entrepreneurs. The feeling of accomplishment, putting in a lot of hard work to transform my clients’ properties, is also incredibly rewarding. My biggest piece of advice for starting a business like mine is to just start. Stay focused on what you learn and what works and double and triple down on it.” 

To access the full version of Jobber’s Blue-Collar Report, visit


Jobber’s Blue-Collar Report features findings from a July 2023 survey commissioned by Jobber and conducted by Dynata of 1,000 high school and college-age individuals in the US between the ages of 18-20, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Survey responses were weighted to represent a gender split consistent with the U.S. Census.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Contractor, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations