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EWIT’s Hacia Atherton visits American tradies

EWIT Australia

In the realm of skilled trades, the tools and tasks may sound similar across the Australian landscape and American cities, yet the tradies of these lands follow distinct paths.

My journey from Australia to the vibrant environments of New Orleans and Florida unveiled a diverse mix of skills, cultures, and practices unique to each region.

Australian tradies embody the ‘Jack of all trades’, skilled in various tasks, shaped by a culture rich in apprenticeships and trade schools. In contrast, American tradies often specialise, mastering specific skills in their chosen fields.

SEE ALSO: More Gen Z tradies running their own business

This adventure was more than just a professional exploration; it was a discovery of the shared values of hard work, skill, and community that bind tradies across the globe, despite the vast oceans between them.

Image: EWIT

The Tradie in Australia: Versatility and humour in the land Down Under

The Australian tradie, in the USA, is as iconic as the kangaroo and is seen to embody a blend of hard work, adaptability, and a broad skill set and experience. Something that stood out for me as I met the American tradies was our Australian tradie humour, characterised by its dry, self-deprecating wit, and how it plays a significant role in workplace camaraderie.

It’s a unique cultural element that brings laughter and strengthens community bonds, embodying the resilient and cheerful Australian spirit. For instance, an Aussie tradie might quip, “I’m such a good tradesman, I can cut a piece of wood just by looking at it; it’s true, I saw it with my own eyes!”

When I brought a slice of Aussie humour to the American worksites, the reaction was as enlightening as it was entertaining. Initially, there was a moment of pause, a brief interlude as my mates from across the pond processed the dry, self-deprecating style typical of an Aussie joke. But soon enough, these moments gave way to hearty laughter and wide grins.

From state standards to team laughter: The American tradie experience

One of the most interesting things I discovered in my trip was that trade education and requirements can vary significantly from state to state, with carpenters in Florida facing different standards than those in New Orleans. Although there were differences in the world of trades in the USA, there were also significant similarities.

Regions like New Orleans and Florida, often hit by natural disasters, face acute shortages in skilled trades essential for rebuilding. Similar to Australia, the USA’s trade industry is also working to overcome gender imbalances. I see the application of positive psychology in fostering inclusive and growth-oriented workplaces a key to this effort in both countries, as we aim to create a diverse and resilient workforce.

The humour of American tradies, known for being straightforward and witty, mirrors their work ethic. For instance, I overheard an American tradie playfully tell their apprentice, “Hey, go grab me the wire stretcher, would you?” Moments later, I saw the apprentice earnestly searching, only to realise the joke.

This kind of humour does more than just bring a smile – it lightens the mood and strengthens team bonds, reflecting the industry’s value of quick wit and adaptability. These are essential traits for navigating the complexities of trade work.


Positive psychology in trades: A catalyst for change

Incorporating positive psychology in the trades is revolutionising the industry enhancing psychological safety, diversity, and mental well-being. This approach boosts job satisfaction and resilience and promotes inclusive, supportive work environments.

Humour and positive change

As we conclude our journey from Australia’s TAFE campuses to America’s technical colleges, the role of humour alongside positive psychology stands out. Whether it’s an Aussie tradie’s joke about a left-handed screwdriver or an American’s quip about a bucket of steam, humour unites tradies in their challenging yet rewarding professions.

This exploration has been more than a comparison; it’s a testament to the resilience and adaptability of tradies.

Remembering that the future of trades is not just built with tools but also shaped by positive attitudes and laughter, we look forward to perhaps one day finding those mythical tools in a tradie’s arsenal.

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