Far too often, the message delivered to young people is that “everyone needs to go to college” to be successful. Evidence of this assumption surfaces everywhere. High schools put up signs with seniors who have been accepted into colleges. NPR publishes articles that say the only downside to getting a college degree is not finishing the degree, picking the wrong college, or choosing the wrong major. As a career practitioner this strikes me as odd. Not only is this detrimental to our economy, but it is disrespectful to all those people whose skills and gifts lead them toward trades / crafts occupations. We need all jobs to be honored in this country. It is clear this is not often the case.
There are 10’s of 1000’s of jobs that do not require a college degree that are wonderful choices for people, and YES, make very good money. I know many people who have great jobs with no bachelors degree, from a great career in the radio business, to auto mechanics, HVAC, and many others. Businesses in the trades / crafts areas are desperate for bright people who can problem solve and produce quality work. Why do we shuffle EVERY student who is bright in math / science to college? If they want to work with their hands and produce goods, why wouldn’t we make it OK for them to choose a trade? I think of the German model of education that provides two different tracks in high school allowing bright young men and women who want to work in a craft or trades area to get the training they need… and it is OK to do this, not second class like it is here.
If you have not read Shop Class As Soul Craft by Matthew Crawford, you should. He has a PhD in Philosophy and was working for a professional journal writing abstracts, but was always drawn back to his work on motorcycles and the problem solving skills it took to do that job. Matthew is one of many people who probably was given one choice in high school. “You are bright, you are going to college.” Matthew argues that our country has failed an entire population of people by continuing to cut shop classes and offering high school technical education for those people that can’t go to college. (noticed I said “can’t go to college” which is loaded with all kinds of implications. Because they do not LOOK like they are college material? They don’t learn best by reading? Because they are poor?… this list goes on and on.)[Read more…] about Honoring All Jobs