I think it's time we stopped complaining about the lack of good jobs in this country. There are plenty of good jobs. Companies are always hiring professionals: if you've got a nursing degree, there are over 100 positions available to you in the Hershey Medical Center alone. You can basically name your own department, hours, and schedule, they're so desperate.
But not everyone has the discipline to go to college and get their nursing degree. Not everyone even has the discipline to go to a two or three year nursing certification program. But don't start complaining yet: there's also a need for skilled laborers: concrete finishers, electricians, carpenters, mechanics, plumbers, forklift operators, teamsters, computer technicians, roofers, etc. None of these take all that much training. No academic prowess or special level of intelligence is required. So why does the city of New York have to put up posters advertising for bus mechanics and police officers? Because there aren't enough qualified applicants.
Why not? Because we're sending all of our kids through a quasi-academic high school program that leaves most of them with a useless diploma they didn't earn while not preparing them on any level for professional careers. Something like 25% of Americans will go to college. Why should the other 75% have to spend the best opportunity they will ever have to learn vocational skills preparing for a future they will never attain? I think this is something the Europeans have right: if you aren't headed to college, you shouldn't go to high school, you should go to vocational training. Most Americans, I would argue, could use a lot less education and a lot more training. So what if they've read Great Expectations? Does that help them get a job more than a month spent learning to weld?
The blue-collar worker should be the least susceptible to offshoring, not the most. Think about it. Where do you need to be to write computer code? Any place that has power and access to the Internet. Why not India? But where do you need to be to install an electrical outlet? Wherever the building in question is located. Same goes for repair and construction work: it's inherently un-offshore-able. Manufacturing is lauded as the ultimate blue-collar job, but I think that has at least as much to do with the fact that the labor is, as a rule, totally unskilled, so any schmuck can do it. But can anyone repair a bus? No, that takes a certain level of training.
There's a reason that children of college-educated parents are much more likely to go to college than children of blue-collar parents, and it has far less to do with income or education than with upbringing and culture. Stick two kids from the same town into the same public school and the child of college-educated parents is more likely to get an education than his blue-collar counterpart.
I think the problem is that we've got too many opportunities, not too few. I say we abolish the inner-city public high schools and send the kids to arc-welding school. The best they can hope for is a decent, skilled-labor job, so why not just train them to hold it down? Maybe their kids will get a clue and have the aptitude for college, and maybe they won't, but they won't be poverty-stricken.
Death to high school!Posted by ryan at September 7, 2005 5:32 PM