Our Youth in the Trades
Is a College Education the Right Path?
As a parent, I want what’s best for my children, and for the past twenty years a college education has been touted as the best way to guarantee a well-paying job and good quality of life. In 2012 college graduates over 25 years old earned 25% more than the median average wage worker according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Naturally, as a father of three, I should come to the conclusion that a college degree will mean my children will make a decent living and not break their backs doing it. And as a father, I’ll do whatever is needed to make sure they can attend a college or university.
But one statistic isn’t enough to base your child’s future on. We’ve been reminded time-and-time again that college doesn’t ensure employment, nor especially a well-paying job. Also according to the BLS, only 72.6% of recent college grads were employed and over a quarter-million Americans with a Bachelor degree or higher are working in minimum wage jobs. The overwhelming cost of college has left our children with more debt than they are ready to handle. Since 1988 college tuition and fees have more than doubled compared to 2011, according to a recent CNN story. On top of this, the college and university system has been routinely criticized for their inability to prepare our children for the complicated “real world.”
What About a Trade Education?
So why is it that we as a society continue to heard our children into a system that we know is expensive, unproductive, and doesn’t guarantee a good, stable job? Personally, I believe society is to blame. Our perceptions of manual labor, blue-collar jobs and trade schools have become toxic in our society. Why aren’t we engaging our youth in the trades?
The expectation that everyone in each subsequent future generation should go to college is just plain foolish. Equally foolish is the idea that laborers or blue collar workers cannot be intelligent or successful. Two of my newest employees are college educated, so obviously they were intelligent enough to complete the requirements for their degrees (and I think they could obtain advanced degrees if they wanted). Instead they chose to enter careers in the trades, where their hard work and motivation will help them succeed.
Do What You Love
My two new crew members left their previous jobs to find a more satisfying career that “makes them happy.” This idea that working in the trades brings a greater sense of fulfilment to employees is not unique to A Concord Carpenter employees, but instead this sentiment is shared by many trade men and women when talking about their careers. The North Bennett Street School, America’s oldest trade school dating back to 1885, uses the tag line “Do what you love” to entice students to pursue a career in the trades.
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