Wolverine Aims to Close Skills Gap by Proving a Job in the Trades is Next Generation’s Dream Job 

New survey shows 65% of the “next-gen workforce” worries they’ll need to choose between following their passions and making a living

ROCKFORD, Mich., Oct. 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Millions of skilled trades jobs currently sit empty, in large part because of low awareness and misconceptions. At the same time, 72% percent of the next-generation workforce says they don’t want a desk job. The insight was uncovered as part of the second annual survey1 commissioned by Wolverine, the Michigan-based footwear and apparel company, to quantify year-over-year trends and perceptions of the skilled trades.

Wolverine’s purpose is to support people who forge their own path and the brand is on a mission to bring awareness to the skilled trades by proving that a job in the trades can be anyone’s dream job. Roles in the trades offer the qualities ranked as most important for young people in their future jobs:

  • Doing something I’m passionate about (94%)
  • Being able to get a job quickly after school/training (90%)
  • Doing something that will have a lasting impact (88%)
  • Having opportunities to be creative (83%)


“Not knowing enough about the skilled trades is a large barrier for why people aren’t choosing this career path,” said Andrew Shripka, vice president of marketing for Wolverine. “But the reality is that these jobs offer exactly what today’s young people are looking for. They can get out from behind a desk and find success where the work they are doing is making a lasting, meaningful impact.”

However, 65% still worry they’ll need to choose between following their passions and making a living. That’s why Wolverine’s Project Bootstrap enters its fifth year focused on eliminating stereotypes and showing how things you’re passionate about can found in trades careers.

In partnership with Manhattan’s soon-to-open Torch & Crown Brewing Company, Wolverine is proving how trade jobs are dream jobs with its newest Team Wolverine members, announced last night at a sneak peek of Torch & Crown:

  • Mike Betros (Tinton Falls, New Jersey): Mike took the skills he learned in automotive trade school and went on to follow his passion crafting a rewarding career in brewing. From brewing beer to installing vats to managing the brewery’s entire flow — for Mike, there’s never a dull moment.
  • Michelle Gooding (Parma, Idaho): Michelle ditched her 9-to-5 behind a desk and returned to her family farm to reconnect with the physical and mental work she loves. Together with her sisters, she’s taken their hops farming business to new heights.
  • Shane McConnell (Sommerville, Massachusetts): The trades led Shane down many different roads. But it’s his job as draft technician installing tap systems at Modern Draught that allows him to pour his heart into every restaurant and bar, establishing him as one of the coolest Draft Techs around.

As the new faces of the Wolverine brand, each Team Wolverine member was also surprised with $15,000 during the signing event, to put toward facilitating their success at work.

“Mike, Michelle and Shane are pursuing their dreams through their jobs, and each has found the flexibility and opportunity to create the life they wanted through the trades,” said Shripka. “At Wolverine, we believe this crew can tackle anything with their hard work and tenacious spirit. We’re honored to call them Team Wolverine, as they take the same pride in their work that we do in supporting them.”

In addition to providing the inspiration to follow their dreams, Wolverine is also helping facilitate Gen Z’s entry into the trades. Wolverine partnered with Torch & Crown to create Lace ‘Em Up Lager, a beer to support the skilled trades. Wolverine is matching the collaboration beer sales with a donation of up to $50,000 to the mikeroweWORKS scholarship foundation to encourage the next generation of skilled trades workers. The Lace ‘Em Up Lager is available now in cans where Torch & Crown is sold and will be available on tap at the brewery when it opens later this fall.

Founded in 2014, Wolverine’s Project Bootstrap celebrates and supports the women and men who keep our country running through their expert skills and strong work ethic. While some of the root causes of the skills gap are low awareness of and misconceptions about the trades, there has been positive movement on key measures according to this year’s survey, including:

  • In 2018, 69% of those surveyed indicated they were not familiar with careers in the skilled trades; in 2019, that figure dropped to 66%. Although not significant, it suggests a downward trend.
  • When asked why members of the next-gen workforce have not considered the trades more strongly, 39% said they just do not know enough about it compared to 45% in 2018 — a significant difference.

To learn more about Wolverine and Project Bootstrap, visit Wolverine.com/ProjectBootstrap.


Wolverine is a Michigan-based footwear and apparel company that has been making durable work boots with the highest-quality materials for more than 135 years. Committed to supporting those in the skilled trades, Wolverine’s Project Bootstrap sheds light on the interesting and exciting career paths that are available in the trades. In 2018, they formed Team Wolverine to support individuals that personify the drive, grit and work ethic of those in the trades to help close the skills gap. For more information, visit www.wolverine.com. Wolverine is a division of Wolverine Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: WWW).


Torch & Crown Brewing Co. is the only brewery in Manhattan, with a taproom in Soho set to open to the public in late 2019. Every beer produced by Torch & Crown is crafted to embody the excitement and ambition that power the world’s greatest city. Building a full production brewery in the heart of downtown is an ambitious project and has taken a lot of that unique city energy, but the reward of bringing the city closer to the production process than ever before is worth it. Torch & Crown’s production team, helmed by childhood friends Joe Correia (a veteran brewer, formerly of Kane Brewing and Rogue Ales) and John Dantzler, is composed of employee-owners, allowing them to fuel the company’s driving ambition. For more information visit torchandcrown.com and @torchcrownbeer on Instagram, or visit the taproom in Soho when it’s open.


The mikeroweWORKS Foundation is a on a mission to help close the skills gap by highlighting the millions of vocational opportunities that people often overlook by publicly challenging myths and misperceptions about these jobs. Through its scholarship programs, like the Work Ethic Scholarship Program, the mikeroweWORKS Foundation encourages people to learn the trades that help sustain civilized life and provides financial assistance to people willing to learn a trade that’s in demand. Since its inception, the mikeroweWORKS Foundation has granted, or helped facilitate the granting of, more than $5 million in technical and vocational education for trade schools across the country.


The survey was commissioned by Wolverine and conducted by Edelman Intelligence, a full-service consumer research firm. Fielded between Sept. 05 – Sept. 10, 2019, the online questionnaire surveyed 1,000 high school-aged students ages 16-18 within a margin of error of +/- 3%. Year-over-year questions include data from September 2018 survey, which also surveyed 1,000 high school-aged students aged 16-18. As a member of The Insights Association in good standing, Edelman Intelligence conducts all research in accordance with MRA Marketing Research Standards and adheres to the CASRO Code of Standards and Ethics.

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