Trades that are being lost –
IN workshops, shopfronts and backyard sheds across South Australia, a dying breed of workers are among the last of the skilled tradesmen to keep many professions alive.
Blacksmithing, cobbling and watchmaking are some of the trades disappearing from modern lifestyles as technology takes over the need for the specialised and often labour-intensive skills.
With skills that were once the cornerstone of a thriving economy, the workers now focus on niche markets and are fulfilling a passion and interest in their chosen fields.
Institute of Backyard Studies research director Mark Thomson says improved technology has replaced the need for many tra- ditional tradesmen. Plastic, for example, is being used instead of sheet metal, cars have replaced horses as modes of transport and shoes are being made in mass production in Chinese factories, doing away with the need for many sheet-metal workers, blacksmiths and cobblers.
‘‘There are all sorts of superseded technology,’’ he says.
‘‘Technology has been an absolute boon for us, in how much stuff gets made and how much more material goods get made by technology and machinery.
‘‘ That’s because hand-made trades are very, very hard work.’’
Mr Thomson says there is a persistent and tiny demand for workers in many occupations, but they have become niches over time.
‘‘There are some people still around who are traditionally trained and are passing on the skills,’’ he says.
‘‘There’s been an interesting backlash.’’
He says there is renewed interest in older technologies and how traditional tradesmen do their job and make a quality product.
‘‘The nature of making things in certain ways draws people into them,’’ he says.
‘‘That’s why some of these trades persist.’’
But it still can be easy to take something such as a shoe for granted, he says.
Barber Diahann Logan, 45, says the future of the trade is bleak as fewer younger staff train to specialise in men’s hairdressing and styling, and take a more broad approach to cutting and styling women’s hair.
‘‘I don’t know whether barbers will be replaced once we go,’’ Ms Logan says.
She chose to move into the specialised field after 20 years of being in the hairdressing industry to focus on cutting hair and providing a service to the community.
She says getting back to the traditional basics of men’s hairdressing appeals to her and her clients.
‘‘I wanted to keep it simple,’’ she says.
‘‘I think the way the economy went last year and the year before,