That Conversation About “The Trades”…..

It has been a while since I posted about this topic. Last evening, I attended a Scholarship Awards dinner and sat with a young lady and her mother. The student will be attending Florida State to major in Computer Science and is the first to leave home. The mom has some concern of course although that’s not the point of this post. The mom is proud of her and mentioned she only did one year of college as she became pregnant and was then able to get a good job while she raised son and daughter. That led to commenting her son isn’t looking to go to college, and prefers to work with his hands. I explained I was a big proponent of the trades rather than, “everyone should go to college”. This has been my position for years, strengthened by the inexcusable cost of college and the proliferation of degrees that aren’t remotely marketable. Now again, college graduates (especially anyone in liberal arts) often don’t go to work in their field of study, but apply the skills learned in other areas. The idea that someone who majors in something like Women’s Studies should also be able to find a high-paying job in that field is where things generally go awry.

Getting back to the point of the trades though. There is a shortage throughout the country of electricians, etc.,., and while Vocational Tech (VoTech) fell out of favor in many high schools, that seems to be changing. Major IT companies have long partnered with schools to provide the option to take courses in high school that can result in graduating with a technical certification of some type in addition to their diploma. That can lead to an entry level job that pays well and allows for upward mobility. In other cases, more training is required, but technical colleges usually have certifications that require only one or two years to a career. Costs are significantly less and again, job placement assistance is often included. Starting in a trade doesn’t mean being “stuck”; it can also mean that in the process of working as an electrician or whatever, the individual may well decide they do want to go on to college, or into business for themselves one day. No, not everyone is suited for a trade, but it should be encouraged for those who are.

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