ATLANTA — New job numbers in Georgia show unemployment in the state is up, but business owners say they are still struggling to find qualified employees.
At a time when the average Georgia college graduate is carrying more than $27,000 in debt, many people are walking away from universities and forging a different future.
That’s why one small business in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward is advocating for a turn back in history and an embrace of tradecraft.
“Having the history of being here and having a family tradition is really nice because it’s not all that common,” said Marty Martin of Fred Martin Welding, the oldest business on the block.
Marty and his family have watched the city grow from their shop on Edgewood Avenue for the last 85 years.
“We were a little nervous – maybe we are not going to fit this neighborhood anymore; we are pretty quirky,” he said.
Fred Martin founded the company in 1938 and passed it down to his son, who had to convince his nephew, Marty, to take up the mantle.
“I still played trumpet, and I thought up until that time, I would be a rockstar,” said Marty, who now believes more young people should think of trade jobs when finding a career.
“These last few years, there’s been this push of, you have to go to college, and you have to go the day you graduate high school, and that’s not the right choice for a lot of people. There are a lot of trades where you can make a very good living, and some people would rather work with their hands because it’s more satisfying,” he said.
That life sounds great to Marty’s own son, Luke, who sees how an aging workforce and increased demand for construction is opening up tens of thousands of high-paying welding jobs.
“I love being close by with my family, I love the neighborhood, and I like working with my hands,” he told 11Alive.
Luke works with his Dad at the shop now and wants to one day take over the family business. After all, the family business has shown him the signs of success.