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Sunday, June 6, 2010

college for everyone?

Another group of students have graduated and now they to will enter the world of work. In my line of work I have seen two things, all kids will grow up to be adults, and all will go to work. But there are some misconceptions that I think people are buying into on the college work transition. For starters there is some basic information I would like to share, keep in mind these are my own observations first hand and not a skewed government  poll.  Out of 100 High School students when asked who wants to go to college the response is generally 100 %. When asked how much they expect college to cost, they generally have no ideal. when asked how they will  pay for this it is gen a 50 50 split of Mom and Dad or loans.  Out of those 100 students 10% are actually able to enter into a four year college the rest will have to attend remediation classes to get into a community college. The reality of this is that out of the 100 students only 10 are able to enter into a four year course of study, and in reality only 30% or 30 out of 100 will actually make it on to any form of post secondary education (2 or 4 year). Now keep in mind that only 15 of these students will actually graduate from a two or four year course of study. So out of 100 only 15 will actually graduate. Now they have debt, lost wages and added to the tax payer weight by having grant money never to be repaid. But like I said earlier ALL will go to work. So why are we not encouraging our students to go to trade schools, why are we not encouraging our kids to enter into apprenticeships and learn a skill? Is it because we all want our kids to be Doctors or man eating lawyers and not have to work everyday like we do? Lets take a look at some basic wages. A plumber on a house call to fix you leaking faucet or unplug you toilet, maybe install some new fixtures....$60.00 per hour plus a mark up on your parts. Need that piece welded down at the local fab shop, cool $60.00 per hour also. How about putting up that ceiling fan okay $80 each to install. Got to repair that oil field rig and need a saturation diver they are making $800.00 a day  plus extra for saturation work. Point to make here is that we as a society are losing our skilled work force with this ideal that everyone is going to sit in AC everyday and go out for lunch with the crew. We look down on those people who choose to do physical labor everyday as being less educated or worldly, not so. In my lifetime I have worked around the world with the trade, My wife and I both have traveled the entire width and length of the country, seeing our nation and earning some incredible wages as well. Both of us were educated in the public school system, me to weld and she to learn drafting. She was one of the smart kids in school who was discouraged from taking drafting classes in high school, but she did it on her own during study halls, getting employment during the Carter years drawing houses. By the time she graduated high school she had been working two years as a draftsman, was gainfully employed and off the Guidance radar as a college student since she chose to go and learn on her own so to speak. She attended Del Tech and got a degree in Archit. drafting while I was in the military doing my time to learn about welding. When we got married we bought our own home, and entered into the world of work working in Nuclear construction.
Now today I have taken my training and have trained hundreds of people in the welding trade, yes I returned to college when I was 30 something after having becoming a journeyman welder and yes my wife did attend college to learn a trade. We need tradesmen today and I am pleased to say that I have personally directed many students who may have been part of the statistics I referred earlier into skilled craftsmen. Inspectors, Divers, Welders, Nuclear construction, Pipe fitters all of em could have fallen into a world of debt and disappointment if they had chosen another path. I think it is time we started to place some of these graduating students into the trades, like an article I read some time ago, Europe trains their people to go to work we train ours for MacDonalds.


  1. You know, my SO and I have had discussions about this. Our friend's adult son failed out of college and is now working in retail, and we've tried to suggest trade school.

    I think it has to do with the stigma associated with retail, food service, and trade jobs. For some reason, what were once respectable jobs are now considered horrid things that no one wants. The only people you see in these jobs are immigrants and teenagers, and the teens expect to get better jobs once they get past their teenage years. Add unrealistic income expectations - seriously, $60k/year to answer phones and do very basic computer tech support? get real! - and we've got a whole lot of disappointed kids coming out of high school now and in the very near future.

  2. True, and the ones that follow the path to journeyman in the trades earn fair and honest wages with benefits. Somewhere we lost sight of the path to financial independence lays with learning a job that leads to a career of fair and honest labor. Both of my kids are in trade related jobs, and are in apprenticeship or attended trade schools. Both have lived on their own since high school starting at the bottom working their way up the trade ladder. Fortunately I think more people are seeing the trend.

  3. Not only that, but those in the trades have a good chance of making more than typical office grunt workers, even those with degrees.

    I agree, more people are seeing the jobs are hard to come by, and contractors/roofers/plumbers seem to be up to their eyeballs in work, especially after this past winter. Being able to work for oneself is just a perk, really.

  4. I agree with you Biazzio. As I have expressed once before it is the "Just Like Me syndrome" that teachers in school pass on to their students, that is go to a four year college and get a job that is paid for by the taxpayers.