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Trade Work: A once sparse industry gaining traction following pandemic



CHARLOTTE Local Charlotte News — The pandemic has many people re-thinking what they want out of life. More than four million Americans quit their jobs in September.

Restaurant and hotel workers are quitting at a rate that is twice the national average. What those people are doing now varies, but one path some have chosen to go down is trade skills.

“This is actually a new different trade for me.” Tanika Terry said.

Terry has traded in her apron for work boots and knee pads.

“As far as the pandemic, a lot of people lost their jobs,” Terry said. “Some jobs weren’t essential, so I figured why not learn another trade that is essential.”

She is one of more than a dozen apprentices, who in less than two years will be certified tile installers.

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“People just want to come because they see the opportunity to learn the trade and get paid at the same time,” Lead instructor at Craft and Trade Academy Bernd Wilke said.

The academy recently expanded certified training to meet the needs of the growing construction company.

“There is a need and people are coming,” Wilke said.

Owner, Frank Mueller started the program in 2019, after struggling to find qualified workers.

“I could not believe that I could not find any real good tile installers and that’s why I said we need to train them on our own,” Mueller said.

The apprentices are not just training, they also make up ten percent of the company’s workforce.

They spend 40 weeks inside the academy in Charlotte. Wilke said the rest of the time, they are out in the field with mentors.

“Why not get paid to learn a trade, and that when you learn more you can do your own thing,” Terry said.

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