Here is a plea to local school administrators and board members: let's start focusing more on giving young people real vocational skills before they head out into the work world.
In his column in Industrial Distribution, Jack Keough laments the aging state of the America's manufacturing workforce. The article notes that 2 million jobs in the sector will likely go unfilled over the next decade, but that “only three out of 10 parents would encourage their kids into manufacturing as a career.”
Think about how many of your electronics, plastics, tools, clothing, cosmetics -- and even food -- are now made overseas.
Then think about how many 20- or 30-somethings you know without a job or who are underemployed working a low-paying service sector job.
Apple CEO Tim Cook's recent comments regarding how the United States, "over time, began to stop having as many vocational kind of skills." It's one of the reasons Apple must outsource the manufacturing of its many gadgets to China. In short, Cook said Chinese workers have more skills than American laborers.
A recent study by the Manufacturing Institute found that Gen Y (ages 19-33 years) respondents ranked manufacturing last as a career choice.
This despite the fact that every job in manufacturing creates another 2.5 new jobs. This despite the fact that nearly one-third so-called "Millennials" are living at home or with a relative, even as some approach their mid-thirties. (Read that again if you're not shaking your head.)
Students, parents and school officials -- from top administrators to counselors to board members -- should recognize the surging demand for skilled labor in America, especially in our part of the country.
Students who obtain a certified trade skill tend to:
- Graduate with little or no debt.
- Make more money right out of high school or community college. (Hard-working young welders are making over $100,000 in many cases.)
- Have more job offers.
- Keep jobs longer.
- Own their own businesses and set their own hours, if they want to.
Knowing this, and knowing the foreseeable job market, why aren't more public schools expanding their technical and vocational training?
Why aren't more parents and schools recognizing the changing economy, which no longer provides enough service sector jobs for people with liberal arts four-year degrees and $100,000 in student debt?
And perhaps most importantly, why would any 30-year-old still want to live with mommy and daddy?