DY­ING BREED

Trades that are be­ing lost –

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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,

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