It has been said before that knowledge weighs nothing when discussing Bug Out Bags and the survival. This is very true in this sense, but this knowledge and skills can go far beyond this. In a Red Level scenario you will need much more than you could ever stockpile. This is where these skills can really come into play.
One way these can be used is to become part of a team or community. People banding together will be looking for some type of value in those they allow in. Those with valuable skills and a willingness to contribute will be welcomed in. Someone seen only as a warm body that can only do the most basic labor will seem more like dead weight.
The second way these skills can benefit you is directly as a bartering item. If you do not find a group, you can trade this skilled labor for other things you may need. This could be anything from a single meal up to room and board for the duration of your work. It all depends on what you need and the others have to offer.
There are several skillsets that jump to mind when discussing skills to barter in a emergency situation. Medical knowledge, food preservation experience, animal husbandry experience, and mechanical skill. These skill sets do not have to be at an expert level, but you you should be proficient. For instance medical knowledge does not mean being a doctor or even a paramedic. It can mean that you have taken first aid courses, first responder training, know types of medications to use, or have studied natural remedies. Naturally the deeper this skill goes, the more it may be worth to others.
Food preservation and animal husbandry come to mind because they are skills that have fallen out of use in many areas. These skills will be needed when the grid is a down indefinately and no more refrigerated food trucks deliver today’s dinner in the nick of time. With this you can assist with producing food stores. This can be as simple as canning vegetables or as complex as keeping the herd of cattle alive. Both are food for the future. The cattle are simply beef “on the hoof” until they are needed. The upside is that they can reproduce and generate more food via calves or milk.
Mechanical skill is a very wide set. It can vary from construction experience up to all types of engineering. With the construction experience you can design and build structures, repair existing ones, and fortify if necessary. This is not as simple as “I built a bird house..once.” There needs to be enough experience that you know the good ideas from the bad. As far as engineering, this can range from equipment repair, to manufacturing, to extensive architectural design. This can be a great help for people’s survival. Vehicles need upkeep and guns need repaired. Systems to provide clean water, alternate fuels, or localized electricity need to be designed, manufactured, and installed.
While these barter skills may not come into play immediately in a disaster, they can be the key to long term survival. And that is the key to rebuilding. So be certain that you carry with you more than a full backpack when disaster strikes.