Some industry leaders see the continual advancement of technology that is steadily rendering everything from corporate catering to factory monitoring in a computer based industry as a death knell for skilled trades. However, it could be said that trades have always had to adapt to new technologies, and this is just one more example of skilled trades becoming more skilled, and that there will always be room in the workforce for skilled trades people.
Long ago in England skilled trades were occupations like baker, tailor, or butcher that were part of their own guilds that looked out for the interests of their members. Guilds have morphed into unions and the narrow townhouses have given way to more spacious houses but the general principle of skilled trades has persevered. The old time method of trades training was to apprentice young boys (some as young as five years old) to a master of the trade for gradual training as the boy grew.
Today, however, child advocacy and the growth of elementary education systems has increased the ages at which trades people enter their apprenticeships significantly. This has been balanced by a compression of the learning period so that the trades person is able to enter the profession before old age sets in. This training comes in the form of specialty schools which is often then combined with a few years of apprenticeships before the trades person is officially self sufficient.
Trades training can begin as early as high school in some cases, as many secondary schools have separate streams for students going into trades like carpentry and for students who will go on to become real estate agents. There are many more trades to choose from now than there used to be, with plumbing, restaurant management, heavy machinery operation, pipe fitting, welding, and others joining the skilled trades ranks alongside older occupations like masonry, carpentry, and cooking.
Another major way that skilled trades have changed is that they have become much more gender balanced than they were in the olden days, when it was believed that women were too delicate to handle the demands of a trade. Though there are still more men than women in many trades, an agent helping a couple buy a house near to a factory can't assume it's the man and not the women who works there.