iStock_000005539903LargeBy Deborah Blackburn, Guest Contributor According to the recent blog Shop Courses, Crafts and Creativity by Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein in Psychology Today, research shows that engineers and scientists with a background in the crafts are more successful than those without: “Scientists and engineers need craft training, and oddly enough, people from all walks of life seem to want it too.” I’ve had an interest in the crafts for most of my life, but it wasn’t until I retired that I began to pursue craft training. Having worked as a paralegal for more than 30 years to provide for my son, I couldn't afford to quit my day job to work as an apprentice or be away from my son at night to seek training. I would have rather been a carpenter or steel worker, but I wasn’t aware of my options at the time. I’ve always admired the skills that craft professionals have and appreciate how they can change the landscape so meticulously and artistically to build our nation’s infrastructure. Back in the ‘80s, one of my son’s career and technical education teachers opened his night class to parents of his students, which I attended for two years. The experience made a lasting impression and fueled my desire to build more refined projects around the house. Now that I’m retired and have time to receive a formal education in the crafts, I enrolled in a welding program at National Park College in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Classes don’t start until August, but for my 65th birthday earlier this year, my son gave me a welding mask, gloves and a chipping hammer to get me started. After I complete the program, I plan on designing some yard art for my house and constructing a wrought iron fence for my son's historic home in Louisiana. Eventually, I would like to work part time for a local contractor. Retirees have a lot to offer the construction industry; they are vibrant and energetic enough to still have many productive years ahead. We don’t all retire to be lazy, travel and eat bonbons! Many of us retire to find another way of being productive now that there is time to learn. For example, my son retired from the Navy after 20 years of service at the age of 40 and was still young enough to have an additional career. He is now the workforce development coordinator for an industrial contractor in Louisiana, combining his military experience with his passion for construction by recruiting veterans into the industry. Regardless of what age you are or what walk of life you come from, with the proper education and training, there are plenty of opportunities in the construction industry. We all have our part to play in society, and construction is one of the most critical industries in our economy. It’s never too late to learn a craft, and I advise anyone considering a career in construction to learn about the training programs that are available and make them work for you!

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About NCCER

NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.