3M is raising awareness around the opportunities available in the trades through Skilled, a new docuseries created to dispel misperceptions and showcase diverse and meaningful trade careers.
Skilled workers are a vital part of our global communities and economies, but access to education and opportunity isn’t always equitable. That’s why 3M is working to share ‘Skilled’ with teachers and students, advancing our global commitment to create five million unique skilled trades and STEM learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025.
Inspired by the 3M State of Science Index, Skilled aims to spark a conversation about the modern realities of skilled trades and what may be preventing more people from pursuing these vital careers. By highlighting four tradespeople at various stages in their careers, Skilled showcases the diversity and breadth of trade careers, and how workers can find personal fulfillment and professional success.
The majority of people perceive the typical trade worker to be 41 years or older and male. (3M 2023 State of Science Index)
[MUSIC PLAYING] My generation faces a lot of pressures. Social isolation, bullying, depression. I think people should fight to find what makes them happy regardless of what other people think. I never fit into society's box. I always like to do what I wanted to do and what I was passionate about. I think I've found my purpose. I don't know if everybody has one, but this is definitely mine. I can't imagine doing anything else. This is what I love. My name is Paige Knowles, I'm a plumber and a skilled trades advocate. I first gravitated towards plumbing and carpentry and electrical while I was working on rental properties with my parents. We would always do a little small jobs to fix up the homes that we were renting out. And I started to see how much plumbers would charge just to do a very simple job that when I watch it, I probably could do that next time. So I was very interested in that. And when we were in eighth grade, we had the opportunity to explore the local career and technical school. And it was really interesting to all of the students when we went there. We thought it was super cool. But it was so exciting to be able to see all of the tools and possibilities of what you can create there. I go home and I tell my parents immediately, I want to go to tech school for plumbing, and they were like, are you sure you want to do that? My mom said, you know you're going to have to touch actual poop? But there's so much more to plumbing than just a toilet. People don't think about how incredible it is that water starts somewhere and gets to your house. You take it for granted because you turn that sink on and water's always coming. I think a lot of people nowadays do not know how to work with their hands. It's all about digital, social media, being on their phones. I think a lot of people nowadays get super distracted that they don't even know what they like to do because they just are scrolling. I think the stereotypical construction worker is just a big man who isn't afraid to get dirty, but this can also be a construction worker who can look however you want. As I was deciding my career path, there were a lot of people who were discouraging me. There was a lot of negativity from guidance counselors and teachers being like, why is that what you want to do? You're so smart, you should go to college. All of the friends that I got along with most were the smart ones who said that you shouldn't be going to tech school, and I lost touch with all of my friends from middle school. When I went back to my home school, it felt like everybody was embarrassed to be around me or be associated with me. I felt very alone, isolated, having friends who weren't excited to be around me. It was not a good feeling. It made me felt like a failure at times, but I knew that I was following something that I was happy about. Once I walked into the tech school, it was the place I was meant to be. It was such a positive experience. It was like the sun was shining down on me and everybody was just happy to be there. And it didn't matter what gender you were. You were there to have a purpose and do something and learn something that had meaning in the world. The coolest thing about plumbing, in my opinion, is walking into a customer's house. They're really surprised that I'm a female knowing how to fix something that they don't know how to fix, especially when I walk into men's houses. They're surprised and a little bit offended. Who's this little girl who's going to do something better than I can? [LAUGHS] But I think it's-- the most rewarding part about being in the skilled trades in general is that you are creating something. You are making something work that people will use every single day. I like to say that I'm like the superhero when I go into someone's house. They need something fixed and I get to be the person who fixes it for them. OK. You need to go in there and find your name, and that's the table you sit at. And that's all your information. You have a shortcut on it. I have no one to run out. I first found out about Let's Build Construction Camp For Girls my first year of tech school. My instructor introduced me to the camp and I decided to go. So I didn't know a lot coming in. I was definitely very scared and I wasn't a very outgoing person at the time. But walking in there, just-- I think it changed me. All of us had very little skill level, and by the end of day one, we had five L-shaped walls built. It's so rewarding to be able to see at the end of the day. We came in here knowing nothing and now there's walls built. So day two of camp, once we have the walls built, we learn the internal stuff. So electrical, HVAC, and plumbing. We wired a receptacle-- so an outlet, a plug, and a light switch with a light bulb. And nobody expected this to be as rewarding as it was, but it was so exciting to be able to flip that switch and see light. It was a light bulb moment. We were all ecstatic. We were so happy. My transition from being a camper to an instructor at camp was because I did camp for four years and I had a lot of skills that the new campers didn't necessarily have. So I was able to help them. It's empowering in a different way now to be part of the camp, teaching these girls and empowering them and inspiring them. When COVID hit and I had to rethink life, I realized that there are not enough trades advocates and people encouraging the youth to get into the skilled trades. But I wanted to be an inspiration to girls getting into construction because there weren't that many people doing it for me. People should really get into the skilled trades because it's always going to be in demand and there's not enough people who know how to do it. I wrote a kid's book called Plumber Paige-- Let's Replace a Showerhead. It's to encourage students to consider a path in the construction industry. It's OK to be different, and I think it's important for girls at a younger age in school to consider something that they will actually like and not just follow what everybody else says they should be doing. I don't think there is gender to a job. The future of the skill trade workforce is really in the hands of the next generation. What they do decides what the future will look like. If I could speak to girls for 30 seconds, all the girls in the world, I just want to tell you to be happy, pursue what you're passionate about, and don't let anybody stop you because there's always going to be negativity and judgment. So follow what you like and don't fit into anybody's boxes. Don't play the roles people tell you to play. I really want to tell girls that you're not without resources, you're not without possibilities. There are paths for you, there are opportunities out there that maybe you just don't see yet, but they are out there. You just have to have the courage to go out there and find them. [MUSIC PLAYING]
“It’s okay to be different and I think it’s important for girls at a younger age in school to consider something that they will actually like, and not just follow what everybody else says they should be doing.”
Paige Knowles is a 19-year-old plumber and author of the children’s book “Plumber Paige” that is inspired by her own experiences. Paige hosts Let’s Build, an all-girls construction camp during the summer and is living her dream of being a skilled trades advocate. Her choice to pursue a career in plumbing initially drew criticism from friends, but the happiness and satisfaction she has found as well as the opportunity to support and inspire other women interested in trade careers provides her with the daily assurance that she made the right decision.
Nine in ten people believe more would pursue a trade career if perceptions of the field improved. (3M 2023 State of Science Index)
[MUSIC PLAYING] Gravity is constant. It's unavoidable. What I do on a daily basis requires a great appreciation for gravity. You can fall the wrong way or you can fall the right way. It comes down to knowledge, and that makes all the difference in the world. That's what inspires me, knowing that the knowledge that I'm imparting can make the difference between someone's life and death. My name is Andrea Martin and I am a safety and fault protection specialist. So I was 21 years old when I got pregnant. I was 22 when I had my kid, and all my friends were off to university and college and I was raising a kid. I raised a kid my entire 20s. And I was waitressing and bartending and I loved it, but when I got pregnant and after I had my kid, I realized I can't sustainably live like this. I needed to change. I had to get out of the restaurant business altogether. I was going down the street and I saw this glove manufacturing factory and I saw that they were hiring and I decided to apply and hand in my resume. So I started at the glove manufacturing company, and within three weeks they gave me a promotion. They said, you're going to try your hand at sales, and I did. I realized that I was really good at what I was doing and I had built great customers. So I actually was scouted by a customer of mine, and he pulled me aside and said, we want you to come work for us, and this is what we're looking to offer you. I was like, OK, well, let me think about it. And I went to my car and I looked at it, and it was double what I was making at my previous job, and I screamed, I shouted. I was so excited. Like, somebody felt that I was worthy. And that was huge for me, because I was a single mom at this time, so I was living paycheck to paycheck. So $20 left on a Wednesday until Friday of payday and I had to choose between putting gas in my car or buying groceries, so for me double pay was, holy smokes, we can get by. Maybe I can take you to a movie. But the biggest thing for me was, was I worth this all along and I just never got paid, like pay parity? That was crucial for me. So I start this brand new job and then they start to send me in for training. All these different types of manufacturers were coming in to teach me about their products. Then they put me through full protection training, and that's when I was like, oh my god, this is amazing. I found my passion. This is what I was meant to be doing with my life. I am the fall girl. 3M bought Capital Safety and there was a position that came open, and I thought, I'm going for this. So the interview was pretty interesting because I don't have a university or college degree. When they asked me, what's going to set you apart from the other candidates? And the first thing I said was, I can get in that demo truck. I know the gear and I know the customers. So day one, I'm in that truck and I'm gone. There's no learning curve. There's no nothing. I think they trusted me because they saw the passion. I love Bertha. She's my demo truck. The first time I saw her, the first name that came to mind was Bertha. It is my dream truck. We are going to conquer the world of fall protection together. I roll onto a jobsite with Bertha and the first thing, as soon as I roll down the windows, guys turn around and they're like, dude, it's a chick. Yeah, I'm not on a job to look pretty. My goal is that people get home safely at the end of the day, so managing those dangerous situations with proper use of fall protection is what helps us achieve that goal. That's my job. So we do the entire demonstration, and I've had numerous guys come up to me afterwards and say, I'm sorry, but at first I thought you knew nothing and I'm blown away. You know more than your male competition. And that's the biggest one for me. It makes me feel great, because my male competition knows that I know my product inside and out. Workplaces have become more dangerous because we're trying to increase production without necessarily increasing safety. Safety work should never be taken for granted. When I read or hear about a fatality on a jobsite, I feel that loss. I take it personal. When I walk onto a jobsite, the first thing I do is visually scan and take a look at all the potential safety issues they may be facing. There are many things that can go wrong on a job site. What inspires me is knowing that the knowledge that I can impart to these workers can make the difference between life and death. Yeah, you're going to-- What size? That's a medium. So you're going to lock. That's OK. So let's make sure your leg straps-- good. That looks great. Having more confidence in my job helped me with my personal life because I was now more confident in myself. I didn't feel like I had to rely on somebody. I can do this and I can do this on my own if I wanted to, and I did. So take these pads here. Some of my dream goals are mentoring women just to have the confidence to work in male dominated industries. I hear all the time that I'm not strong enough or I'm not smart enough, and we're all smart and strong. It's just finding something that you can be passionate about that can build the confidence that you can do it. This year I was nominated as a 2022 top women in safety. To be nominated by male coworkers, male colleagues, that they felt that I was worthy and I do a good job and I'm out there mentoring people and being a strong female in this industry, it made me feel that all the hard work that I've put in all these years has paid off. It was pretty awesome. At the end of the day, anybody who's looking to enter into the skilled trades needs to know that it's not about what your chromosomes are. It's about the passion you want to bring forward within that skilled trade. Our future, manufacturing, construction, you name it, depends on a very strong skilled workforce, and that's why skilled trades needs to be diverse. Trade school is not a fallback. It's an absolute opportunity. So what I'd say to the next generation of people in skilled trades is, don't let anybody stop you. At the end of the day, I just wanted my kid to see that they can be anything you want. It doesn't matter. That was my number one thing is that, look at Mom. If Mom can do this, anybody can. So for me it was always instilling confidence, as you can be anything you want.
“Trade school is not a fallback. It’s an absolute opportunity.”
Andrea Martin is a safety and fall protection specialist at 3M who was named one of the 2022 Top Women in Safety by Canadian Occupational Safety. Andrea first got into the skilled trades to support her family as a young, single mother. After facing and overcoming gender bias in a predominantly male industry, she actively mentors women looking to build a career in the safety and industrial trades.
92% see a consequence if their country cannot find a solution to the shortage of skilled trade workers. (3M 2023 State of Science Index)
(DESCRIPTION) Una escasez de mano de obra daña la economía en todo el mundo. 9 de 10 personas creen que se debería de proseguir con una carrera de oficio si se mejorara la percepción del campo. Fuente: índice del estado de la Ciencia de 3M. Imagen, en la pantalla azul flotan diferentes trazos que se convierten en objetos mecánicos. Texto, Skilled. Imagen: en cámara lenta se destaca a una mujer que camina cerca de cámaras y ajusta un dispositivo. (SPEECH) [LOGO SONORO] [MÚSICA] Siempre me han preguntado si hay algún proyecto en especial y la realidad es que no. Todos para mí han sido especiales, todos tienen un significado importante porque puedo usar mi conocimiento técnico y desarrollar mi parte creativa. (DESCRIPTION) Imagen de un grupo de personas que preparan cámaras y luces que apuntan a un set pequeño e iluminado. (SPEECH) En este trabajo es muy importante saber las herramientas que tienes, conocer las luminarias para saber qué tipo de atmósfera quieres crear. (DESCRIPTION) Imagen, varias mujeres suben a una plataforma una gran lámpara. (SPEECH) En cada proyecto me entrego. Siempre trato de dejar algo algo especial de mí, de lo que sé, de lo que he aprendido. Esto me llena. Es algo mágico la verdad. (DESCRIPTION) Imagen de una mujer que está sentada y la pantalla se enfoca en ella, texto, Ana Berta Martínez, Iluminista. (SPEECH) Mi nombre es Ana Berta Matínez Sánchez y soy gaffer. (DESCRIPTION) Vista aérea de la ciudad de México muestra numerosos edificios blancos y anaranjados rodeados de árboles. En el fondo las montañas se entremezclan con el cielo nublado. (SPEECH) Todos llevan 2. No, aquí saca una. Desde chica siempre ha sido-- (DESCRIPTION) Imagen en el interior de una casa, un hombre adulto y 3 niños pequeños están sentados en una mesa y escriben, Ana Berta Martínez está de pie recargada en una silla. (SPEECH) Yo vengo de una familia humilde, sencilla, pero siempre buscando el sobresalir adelante. (DESCRIPTION) Una fotografía muestra a Ana Berta Martínez de niña abrazando a su papá. (SPEECH) Mi papá es albañil y yo soy la mayor de 3 hermanos. (DESCRIPTION) Un señor adulto con gafas obscuras habla con Ana Berta Martínez. (SPEECH) Mi papá cuando empezó a construir la casa yo le ayudaba a arrimarle tabiques, a hacer mezcla. (DESCRIPTION) Vista aérea de la ciudad de México con múltiples casas coloridas. (SPEECH) Pero a mí lo que me gustaba es que mi papá nunca me decía "no, eso es trabajo de hombres" o "eso tú no lo puedes hacer". Al contrario, mi papá siempre me dio la libertad y el apoyo. Creo que desde ahí traigo digamos que ese espíritu de lucha, de salir adelante, de no rajarme. (DESCRIPTION) Em la calle, Ana Berta Martínez camina en la banqueta de la mano de 2 niños pequeños con mochilas que sonríen y tratan de correr. (SPEECH) ¿Qué vamos a hacer? Eso. Yo soy mamá y es una labor también bastante pesada, compleja, complicada, pero que también me llena de orgullo y es un gran reto porque es una gran responsabilidad sacar una personita adelante. (DESCRIPTION) En un parque, Ana Berta Martínez carga a 2 niños y una niña pequeña al mismo tiempo. (SPEECH) Yo llegué a este medio puedo decir que por casualidad. Iba camino a la escuela a recoger a mis hijos y me encontré con un chico que estaba buscando gente para extras para un comercial. Contó un poco, yo incrédula le dije que sí, le di mis datos, me llamó me dijo hay un proyecto, ¿te gustaría participar? Yo le dije que sí. (DESCRIPTION) En cámara lenta se muestra de espaldas a Ana Berta Martínez mientras camina por la calle y la escena se convierte en un set de grabación. (SPEECH) Cuando yo llegué a un set quedé fascinada. Yo dije ¡guau! ¿Qué es esto? No tenía ni idea de lo que pasaba atrás de una cámara. (DESCRIPTION) Se muestra un set de grabación con muchas cámaras, luces y personas trabajando. (SPEECH) Pues esta misma persona me contactó, me dijo que había un trabajo pero que no era de extra. Y le dije bueno, ¿pues de qué se trata? y me dijo pues hay que limpiar locaciones. Entonces le dije que sí y estuve como año y medio trabajando haciendo limpieza de locaciones en los sets, recogiendo basura, todo, ya sabes. (DESCRIPTION) Se muestra a contra luz a Ana Berta Martínez que barre el piso en un set de grabación. (SPEECH) Aparte de enamorarme de todas las luces el ver a la gente que subía, bajaba, cargaba equipo, llevaban cosas de aquí para allá, pues también me hizo recordar parte de mi infancia. De cómo andaba yo con mi papá con los tabiques haciendo revoltura. (DESCRIPTION) Afuera del edificio se muestra a Ana Berta Martínez y a otras personas que bajan de un camión aparatos y posteriormente los trasladan manualmente. (SPEECH) Cuando terminaba más bien de mi limpieza o no tenía nada que hacer me acercaba con los chicos del estables arrimaba los fierros, [INGLÉS]. Cómo moldeaban la luz, decía guau, yo quiero hacer esto, esto es magia. (DESCRIPTION) Ana Berta Martínez sonríe mientras habla. (SPEECH) Me acerqué al gaffer y le dije tal cual "oiga, yo quiero ser parte de su equipo, ¿tiene una oportunidad que me de?". Porque veía que la mayoría, más bien todos eran varones. No había una sola mujer ahí. Me volteó a ver y me dijo sí. (DESCRIPTION) Imagen del interior del edificio muestra a Ana Berta Martínez que viste ropa negra, guantes de trabajo y camina hacia el exterior iluminado por la luz del sol. (SPEECH) ¿O los quiere juntos? Vanessa Marcano, una foquista, me pasó el teléfono de Ani y me dijo tienes que contactar a esta mujer, se van a llevar increíble. Las 2 están súper apasionadas de la iluminación. (DESCRIPTION) Habla a cámara Sophia Stieglitz que viste de negro y está sentada en un set de grabación. (SPEECH) Me llamo Sophia Stieglitz y soy directora de fotografía y gaffer para cine y televisión. Y hace 4x4-- Bueno, en México no está normalizado que las mujeres hagan carreras técnicas entonces fue muy controversial para la comunidad del cine en México cuando empecé yo de gaffer porque es una carrera técnica muy enfocada en emplear a los hombres. (DESCRIPTION) vista del exterior de un edificio color verde claro con rejas blancas muestra a Ana Berta Martínez que baja unas escaleras exteriores mientras lleva de la mano a su hija pequeña. (SPEECH) El ser mamá y bueno, trabajar en el medio es algo bastante complicado sobre todo como mujer. Te enfrentas a muchos retos, el quién cuida a tus hijos, tienes que ir a juntas, ir a [INGLÉS], dejarles de comer a los niños. (DESCRIPTION) Una escena muestra a Ana Berta Martínez vestida de negro, trabajando, hablando de pie y dando instrucciones. La siguiente escena la muestra mientras está siendo entrevistada y viste camisa verde. (SPEECH) Es complicado que tu propio núcleo te juzgue porque ya te dicen que eres mala madre, que abandonas a tus hijos todo el día. En cambio si es un varón él se puede ir de viaje, dejar a los hijos y está bien porque va a trabajar, va a buscar dinero y una de mamá no. (DESCRIPTION) Vista de perfil de Ana Berta Martínez mientras observa desde un lugar alto la imagen de la ciudad. (SPEECH) Eso creo que es como lo más difícil que me ha tocado. (DESCRIPTION) Se seca las lágrimas de los ojos. (SPEECH) Poco a poco lo van entendiendo, van viendo y se van dando cuenta. Pero en el momento es difícil. Pues afortunadamente he encontrado a las personas que me han apoyado durante este camino. (DESCRIPTION) Imagen, Ana Berta Martínez, un hombre joven y una niña se columpian en un parque a la luz del día. (SPEECH) Tanto aristótales, ¿cuántos traes? Cuando yo entré a este grupo estuve alrededor de 3 años, 3 años y medio trabajando con ellos. Y estaba muy contenta, me encantaba lo que hacía, sin embargo, me sentía como estancada. Yo quería más, quería ir más allá. (DESCRIPTION) En un set de grabación, Ana Berta Martínez y otras personas pegan cables en el suelo con una cinta gruesa. (SPEECH) Pues un día me llamó un gaffer, se llama Carlos Sánchez, es un gaffer importante en la industria, con mucha experiencia. Me llamó para invitarme a un proyecto, yo le dije que sí. Ya después me contó un poco más me dijo es que viene con la producción de Spectre, James Bond y yo dije guau. (DESCRIPTION) Sonríe ampliamente. (SPEECH) Sí, sí quiero. Pues me dio la oportunidad, me invitó a su grupo de eléctricos. Pues fue de mis experiencias más significativas, fue una producción enorme. (DESCRIPTION) Imagen muestra a Ana Berta Martínez haciendo indicaciones mientras habla y posteriormente alza una gran lámpara. (SPEECH) Y a partir de ahí como que me dio más confianza y más seguridad en mí, en mi persona y para desarrollar mi trabajo. (DESCRIPTION) Sophia Stieglitz y Ana Berta Martínez trabajan lado a lado. (SPEECH) Cuando Ani y yo hicimos equipo fue una química instantánea, fluyó. Empezamos a hablarle a todas las mujeres que sabíamos que estaban en nominación y tramoya. Contacté a Ani, Ani contactó a Marilú, empezamos el grupo, fuimos a nuestro primer trabajo (DESCRIPTION) Un grupo de mujeres están de pie y hablan entre ellas. Visten ropa de color negro y en sus camisetas traen sus nombres escritos sobre un gran logotipo. (SPEECH) y al verlas a todas trabajando, subiendo las luces, moviendo fierros, moviendo equipo pesado, me cayó un 20 de que estas mujeres son guerreras. Son las amazonas eléctricas. (DESCRIPTION) Acercamiento al logotipo de las camisetas que todas las mujeres visten dice Amazonas Eléctricas. (SPEECH) Entonces abrimos nuestra cuenta en Instagram y empezamos ahí como a postear todo lo que estábamos haciendo. Cuando hicimos el grupo no vimos la magnitud, pero bueno, creo que fuimos un gran movimiento. (DESCRIPTION) Fotografías variadas de sets de grabación y de las Amazonas Eléctricas trabajando. (SPEECH) Entonces nos empezaron a llegar propuestas de trabajo, más seguidores en las redes sociales también explotaron. Nos han contactado mujeres de todo el mundo, de Nueva York o de Los Ángeles que vienen a la ciudad de México y quieren trabajar con nosotras. Tenemos también conexiones en Brasil, en España y se ha hecho como un network de mujeres internacionales. Creo que somos nosotras ahora como Amazonas eléctricas somos parte importante de esos cambios que está sucediendo dentro de la industria. Al ser el primer grupo conformado por mujeres técnicas y pues los cambios se ven y hay como más adaptación, más aceptación, ya no es raro ver a una mujer dentro de un set. (DESCRIPTION) Las Amazonas Eléctricas ajustan luces y aparatos en un set de grabación. (SPEECH) Y nos volvemos una plataforma para mujeres que querían meterse al área de iluminación y tramoya, pero no encontraban dónde aprender. (DESCRIPTION) Vista exterior de un edificio alejado de la ciudad en donde hay ropa tendida en la azotea que vuela con el viento. Siguiente imagen muestra a 2 banderas de México que el viento las ondea. (SPEECH) Pues regreso a las enseñanzas de mi papá. Mantener la humildad siempre te va a ser sencillo, humilde y agradecido te va a abrir las puertas a donde quiera que vayas. (DESCRIPTION) En un parque, Ana Berta Martínez se agacha para levantar en brazos a su hijo pequeño. Mientras va poniéndose de pie con el niño en brazos, la imagen se convierte en ella levantando una lámpara en un set de grabación. (SPEECH) Y pues para todas esas personas que quieran ser parte de la industria hay carreras técnicas que te ayudan a llegar, te llevan a donde quieres. (DESCRIPTION) Un grupo de mujeres trabajan en un set. (SPEECH) Mi esperanza para las mujeres en el cine de México es que nos sintamos seguras y con la libertad de ser creativas o de ser técnicas en lo que queramos porque somos capaces de todo. (DESCRIPTION) Acercamiento al rostro de cada integrante de las Amazonas Eléctricas mientras ellas sonríen ampliamente. (SPEECH) A todas las mujeres que quieren estar dentro del medio, que han buscado una oportunidad y se las han negado quiero decirles que no se rindan. Si vas por lo que quieres te cueste el tiempo que tarde o lo que te tenga que costar lo vas a lograr. Vas a llegar y vas a cumplir tus sueños. (DESCRIPTION) Se van apagando las luces del set de grabación hasta que todo está oscuro. Texto, los trabajos de mano de obra con educación ofrecen oportunidades variadas para que las personas sean exitosas en su trabajo. 3M celebra estas carreras y apoya a estudiantes a perseguir sus sueños. Aprende más en 3M.com/Skilled.
“My hope for the future of women in the film industry in Mexico is that we feel safe and that we have the freedom to be creative or skilled in whatever we want to do—because we are capable of anything.”
Anni Martinez is a Mexico-based gaffer specializing in lighting design. She is part of the group Amazonas Electricas, an all-female team bringing diversity to Mexico's film industry. Anni was a stay-at-home mom of four before being offered a job to clean film sets. Through curiosity about those working around her, and a lot of persistence, she quickly transitioned to lighting and worked her way up to a supervisor level. Today she is one of the most sought-after gaffers within the AE group.
88% believe parents should encourage their children to pursue skilled trade career options. (3M 2023 State of Science Index)
[MUSIC PLAYING] As human beings, we're all creators. You create things every day. I've always had a passion for building things and then just the willingness to learn. I think every day I go to work kind of with the mindset that I'm going to learn something new, even if I don't. I've come from a place where it's different than where I am now. But as long as I keep growing and I keep learning, I can do anything. My name is Cedric Smith, and I'm a welder. --bunch of me just sitting on the couch. I think we still lived in Chicago. My mom, she remarried when I was two years old, but I also know my father. He was kind of in and out of the institutions as far as like being incarcerated when I was young, but summers, I would still go to Chicago, and I'd go visit my grandpa. My grandfather inspired me at an early age just from going to work with him. He was a mechanical engineer, kind of like a Swiss Army knife, jack of all trades. I see guys come to him super frustrated with a rig or truck part that's not fixing to dimension, and he'd go over there and fix it. And he's just the man for international trucking. He has a reputation there. Watching him fix trucks, do work on engines and everything like that, he's given me a lot of direction. He's given me a lot of inspiration, just who he is as a man and the obstacles I've seen him beat. I was 19, fresh out of high school, when I was in prison, and it was just really-- it was just a tumultuous time kind of. I just lost hope. I didn't really see myself being productive in any way. I just kind of thought that the time for that was over, like I lost my chance. But people make mistakes, and nothing that you do you can't redeem yourself from or you can't get back up and get back on the bike. In prison, actually, I was introduced to high performance manufacturing, and then from there I got introduced to welding. Welding holds our country together, just like seeing big buildings and knowing that welding is a huge part of that. You can weld on submarines, you can weld on tanks, you can weld on skyscrapers. It inspired me as well because it's like I can do kind of what my grandpa did and just be a part of manufacturing and building structures that lasts forever. It restored hope for me. It was like being given a second chance. I applied at a technical school and was accepted pretty much within weeks of being released, and from there on it was pretty much like secondhand for me, just like what I already had knew, like a small skill set for welding. But welding's a little intimidating for beginners, and it was really hard for me to understand how to get that wire speed and that amperage and all of that just right and all the safety hazards. You're dealing with oxygen gas, argon gas. If you turn a pressure gauge too far, you could actually bust the rig of the gauge and it will come off there like a shotgun blast. Understanding how to weld on different types of metal or different types of material. Technical school was really the door for me. It just showed me that welding is applied pretty much in everything in the world that's built. One of the big things in welding and training for a welding man is getting over the fear. It's easy to give up, for sure, but it's just fear, and the only way to get over fear is to face it. My biggest hope for the future is that I continue to grow in this field, to be a better welder, to actually acquire the skills to become a master welder and a journeyman. When my life coach, Darnell Baker, put me in touch with the 3M grant program that they were having, I signed up, and actually through that grant I was able to acquire my own welding machine and was able to start running be coming home from work and still welding on my own, or just putting in the hours, just by practicing day and night. Sometimes I would leave work and weld again in the shed or I would take blueprints that I could use and just learn how to build things on my own. It gave me a lot more leeway. It gave me an opportunity to advance myself. But once you actually get familiar with a welder and the welding booth safety, I think people will be surprised how fun it is. Sparks flying everywhere, being that close to a torch and actually seeing metal become molten. To me welding is like art. I've always loved to build things, and then once I started getting things that stuck and then fall apart or get kicked over, it gave me a sense of pride in my work. It showed me that welding is a skill that it varies in form, but there's a lot of different ways you can apply it. It's just like forming something from nothing, and if that's not art, what is? Oh, Anna, did you eat it? She didn't even wait. Outside of the technical stuff, welding has taught me patience, and it's taught me diligence, that I have no limit. I can learn whatever I want to learn. Whatever I apply myself to, I can be great at. Wow. Good job. In my mind, a second chance worker is someone who's reinvented themselves. Finding that passion is important, because we need more welders. Any type of skilled trade, honestly these jobs are needed in our country and I think it pushes us all forward to be a part of that. My advice for people coming into the trades would be not to quit. Safety first. Safety first. The same old Papa. I just wanted to say thank you. I'm thinking about all the lessons you taught me over the years and how hard working you are, just your legacy that you put forth for us. Always supporting me and giving me advice and helping me be a better man, a better person. Yeah, I love you, Papa. All right, love you too. There is no limit with these type of trades. I think welding definitely tests your bravery and your courage. You've got to have the willingness to commit yourself and keep going. Dream big. Dream as big as you can. Dream skyscraper big. You'll spend your lifetime learning and enjoying new things, new experiences. It's a really unique feeling I think for myself, just because every time I weld, man, it's like vindication almost. It's like I'm doing this. I know where I started and where I am. I know where I want to go. The greatest pride in welding comes from the fact that no one can take this skill from me and it's something that I can continue to evolve in. I've had a time in life where I wasn't really accomplishing much and I was OK with that, and now I'm not. I told myself that I didn't come all this way for no reason. I kind of want to continue to grow, and I think welding is like my key to the world.
“My greatest pride comes from the fact that nobody can take this skill from me and it’s something that I can continue to evolve in.”
Cedric Smith is a welder who attributes getting certified to restoring his hope and allowing him a second chance at life. Cedric’s interest in the trades began at a young age watching his grandfather work as a mechanical engineer. Through a 3M grant, Cedric was able to acquire his own welding machine, allowing him to practice his skills at home and work towards his dream of becoming a master welder. Cedric is driven, committed, passionate and proud of what he does.