No one's really asking you to do that. Not me and certainly not most tradesmen.

But a dose of respect wouldn't be bad. I was reminded of this last week by a press release about National Tradesmen Day and by something I saw on Mike Rowe's website.

National Tradesmen Day, an event created by Irwin Tool to honor hardworking tradesmen, will take place this Friday. In the lead up to that day the company has been promoting the idea that we as a country need to train more skilled tradesmen because there will be a severe shortage when the current generation of tradesmen retires. To that I say—Amen.

And Amen also to Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs, whose story about the poster in his high school guidance counselor's office says it all about what has gone wrong with trade education. The poster shows a happy guy wearing graduation robes and holding a diploma and a sad guy in coveralls holding a shovel. The caption says "Work Smart, NOT Hard". That attitude is at best insulting and at worst stupid and insulting. We as a society have spent 30 years cutting trade education and telling people it's good to work at desk and bad to work with tools because you might sweat and get dirty. Yet many of those desk jobs pay less than the skilled trades—and as someone who has done both kinds of work for significant periods of time I find it hard to believe the average office job is as satisfying as working in the trades.

To paraphrase the renowned stair-builder Jed Dixon: Be happy you're in the trades – you get to go out and build something cool every day. How many other people get to say that?