Melanie LichtfeldPowering Up the Trades
By Rebecca Anderson-Brown, Kate Bast, Lisa Bauer, Shelby Deering, Elle Duncombe-Mills, Jenie Gao, Emily Leas, Marni McEntee, Candice Wagener & Rachel Werner | Photographed by Hillary Schave
Melanie Lichtfeld is on a mission to change our country’s perceptions of post-high school plans, the trades and small business in general. As the fourth-generation owner of Lichtfeld Plumbing, she’s actively working with government to give the trades and small businesses more leverage when it comes to decision-making. In fact, her goal for 2017 is getting the trades included in the new government-funded community college bill.
“The trades are one of the most important things in our country and yet they are the least respected,” says Lichtfeld who points out that when you head home from work, you may not necessarily turn on your computer, but you almost certainly will flush your toilet.
Lichtfeld believes the key is to start at the high school level by reintroducing trade classes into curriculums, creating viable options for students who prefer more hands-on careers like plumbing to four-year degrees. She’ll work with the new administration at the State Capitol to ensure the higher education agenda includes trades apprenticeships.
“Right now, high school diplomas—everybody will tell you they’re worth nothing… let’s redo our high school diplomas,” says Lichtfeld. “Some kids, they’re not going sit at a computer, they’re not going to go into marketing, but boy they can fix a car or a lawnmower.” –Candice Wagener