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Education Technology

Bloomberg To HS Grads: Be a Plumber 368

Posted by timothy
from the series-of-tubes dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This being college graduation season, the insights provided by commencement speakers should be familiar by now: find work in a field you're passionate about, don't underestimate your own abilities, aim high, learn to communicate and collaborate with others, give something back to your community. Billionaire Mike Bloomberg, whose current job is Mayor of New York City, evidently decided to break the mold by advising less academically adept youngsters to consider a career in plumbing. High wages, constant demand, no offshore competition. 'Compare a plumber to going to Harvard College — being a plumber, actually for the average person, probably would be a better deal'. Ouch! And hey, like a lawyer, a plumber can always dabble in politics."
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Bloomberg To HS Grads: Be a Plumber

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  • Also (Score:5, Funny)

    by JustOK (667959) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @09:34AM (#43761501) Journal

    Plumbers don't have to put up with as much shit as most IT workers

    • Funny, that's not what I was thinking when I had to hire a plumber because my main line out of the house got clogged with "flushable" wipes. (I was so glad that I wasn't the one dealing with that literal shit. I was totally happy to pay him for his work.)
      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 18, 2013 @10:12AM (#43761723)

        Which highlights another good reason to be a plumber. Everyone understands why the job is necessary but nobody wants to do it. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of IT.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by K. S. Kyosuke (729550)
          So, what you're basically saying is that a code plumber is the sweet spot of employment in the current job market?
        • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by kermidge (2221646) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @01:11PM (#43763077) Journal

          For a time years ago I made my living by pumping out septic tanks and cleaning sewers. This is a distinct field from plumbing, but we (a partnership of five) often as not had to do the whole trip from a clogged sink or toilet to unblocking a drain field.

          Done well and honestly it's an honorable if shitty profession. I say profession in the sense that to do it well required gaining a fair amount of knowledge of various physical and biological processes or gotchas as well as all the relevant ordinances and laws. We also had to carry a number of bonds, and some of the permits entailed inspections and certifications.

        • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Pecisk (688001) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @03:19PM (#43763891)

          "Which highlights another good reason to be a plumber. Everyone understands why the job is necessary but nobody wants to do it. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of IT."

          Not exactly true. I am about to finish my very late (in age of 33) BSc in CS. Guess how many students (in percentage) choose to learn high level sysadmining or hardware engineering? Yeah, maybe 10% to each (or even less). Sysadmins sometimes have it worst than plumbers. In result, there are very few of them. Hardware engineering is fun, but also much harder than software engineering.

    • Re:Also (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 18, 2013 @10:21AM (#43761791)

      I'd suggest being an electrician over a plumber. No matter where technology goes, we're going to need electricity. And with electric cars booming, someone's going to have to build that electric infrastructure.

      • Risk question, "how many plumbers fall through ceilings versus electricians?"
      • It will probably be several thousand years before home sapiens no linger needs plumbers. Or at least plumbing robots.

      • Re:Also (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@gmail. c o m> on Saturday May 18, 2013 @03:29PM (#43763971) Homepage

        I'd suggest being an electrician over a plumber.

        Being realistic? There's a glut of electricians right now--though there is a massive shortage of lineworkers(guys who work on utilities, can be much more dangerous but pay is better), lot of people started picking up that trade during the housing boom and are still out of work. I've heard anywhere between 10% and 55% depending where you live(either in Canada or the US and particular states/provinces) are unemployed. I'd suggest looking at what trades need the most hands, and consider it. Metal workers, CNC operators, mechanic(did this myself off and on for a decade), pipefitters and so on. The real problem is that kids aren't given the suggestion to look at trades these days, they got the same spiel that we were getting in the 80's and 90's, that going into technology is the way to go. But everyone needs someone to lay and fit pipe, fix their car, and so on.

      • Re:Also (Score:4, Informative)

        by NIK282000 (737852) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @11:01PM (#43765873) Homepage Journal

        As an electrician I would highly suggest becoming a plumber. No matter what the real problem with any building or equipment the first guy called is an electrician and no amount of argument will ever convince the client that water in the breaker panel is NOT the electrician's fault or that the only way to stop the breaker from tripping is to unplug one of the 12 computers on one circuit.

    • Re:Also (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmytheNO@SPAMjwsmythe.com> on Saturday May 18, 2013 @10:53AM (#43762021) Homepage Journal

          Ummm.. I worked with a plumbing company for a while.. There was a whole lot of shit, literally. I was lucky, I just did their IT work. I could talk to the techs who had done messier jobs from a distance. If their blue uniform is now brown, don't get too close. :)

          It was entertaining, and absolutely disgusting, watching them clean out of of the tank trucks. It registered something like 10k pounds overweight, because of the sewage sludge that had built up in the bottom of the tank. At least the guy who went in to clean it got to wear a biohazard suit and respirator.

          I only had to deal with the trucks while I was wiring up their GPS tracking. It was the first chance I had to drive a 10 speed truck. (private property, CDL be damned). The drivers were gone for the day, and the other staff present were afraid to try to drive it up to the shop. The work/cargo vans were harder to drive. Their blind spot is anything but in front of them.

      • Re:Also (Score:4, Informative)

        by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @07:57PM (#43765251) Journal
        Speaking as someone who has a Class A CDL and has driven everything from a motorcycle to a semi, including cargo vans and step vans, if a van has a blind spot that "is anything but in front of them" then you haven't adjusted the mirrors correctly.
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @11:26AM (#43762251) Journal

      This argument starts up every time somebody had to pay their plumber 80 bucks an hour to fix the toilet, their fility stinking filled with shit toilet. They then think the plumber doing a job they never ever want to do themselves, is rolling in it and the IT being their shit but piles of money.

      As if that 80 bucks is pure profit. Meanwhile the daddy plumber knows just how much of that costs goes to cover unpaid hours, taxes, insurance, tool costs etc etc. And he also knows how much Mr Doctor and Mr Lawyer charged him for his children's delivery and to deal with that frivolous lawsuit.

      So... what is he going to want for his kids? The same as himself in a world where just getting by is the same as being a loser OR to aim for the top?

      And don't for a second think that Bloomberg is interested in the fortunes of the public. He just wants more plumbers so he can pay less, same reason his kind wants immigrants to bust unions and high wages. Sure kids, all become plumbers and wave bye bye to 80 bucks as the competition sky rockets. And then you look longingly at IT graduates making high wages because nobody learned how to code anymore.

      Simple piece of advice for live: NEVER listen to a billionaire, they didn't get rich by looking out for other peoples interest.

      • Since about the year 2000, approximately 30 million engineers and medical types flooded into the U.S.. Businesses routinely outsource administrative duties to other country's businesses, with those other businesses not accountable for their actions.

        There's only one other major industry left relatively untouched, the Trades. And Walmart is looking at it.
      • by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @01:06PM (#43763035) Homepage

        Yeah, I'm pretty sure Bloomberg wants everyone to become a plumber so he could lower his plumbing costs. That's the ticket.

        My brother used to work for Bloomberg the financial company as a programmer and he was getting paid a shitload of money for it right out of school. If Bloomberg was speaking purely in his own self interest, he would be telling everybody to be a programmer so he could lower those costs.

        Being a plumber is more secure than anything in IT. It's not a job that can be outsourced and it requires some training, so not anybody can do it right off the bat.

      • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross&yahoo,ca> on Saturday May 18, 2013 @01:43PM (#43763283)

        Did you read his comments? He was not saying that everybody becomes a plumber, but that those who are not as academically adept should. I think he is right. If you don't have the grades and you seek a higher education job then most likely you will get a crap job with a big loan, with bs money. However, you could become an awesome plumber and that work cannot be outsourced. It is not a bad idea IMO! The trades are rated too low in America. Guess where trade skills are rately highely? Oh yeah GERMANY! Guess which economy is doing really well? Oh yeah GERMANY...

  • by GlennC (96879) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @09:36AM (#43761517)

    As much as we need competent programmers, DBAs, network administrators, etc., we also need plumbers, carpenters and electricians. Not everyone has the talent or desire for college, and I think we as a society ought to recognize that. Of course, that means less income for colleges and bankers providing student loans, so I'm not surprised that this is being billed as a radical idea.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 18, 2013 @10:15AM (#43761743)

      Not everyone has the talent or desire for college

      This right here is what needs to stop: just because you're a plumber, or a carpenter, or an electrician, doesn't mean you're dumb. Likewise, going to college doesn't mean you're smart.

      People need to stop looking down on blue collar jobs, and stop treating "going to college" as the highest honor they can bestow upon on themselves. There are way, way, way too many people going to college and doing pointless and ultimately useless degrees. Hell, there are way too many people going to college and doing things like CS degrees who couldn't code their way out of a paper bag.

      We need to get back to the idea that learning blue collar work is just as socially acceptable as white collar. We need to get away from the idea that you must go to college and get a degree or you're a "failure". We should bring back real apprenticeships; for blue and white collar workers.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        A thousand times this. I've a great deal of respect for tradesmen, and if it's money you're after you could do a lot worse than the trades.

      • by Cenan (1892902)

        You are absolutely right. The only yardstick worth measuring with is the "are you happy with what you do".

        On a side note: CS degrees arent supposed to be able to program, which is why they mostly can't - you need to go to a trade school for that. If you happen to bump into a CS grad who do know how to program, and not in the sense that they know C++ syntax, but can actually construct and document a system from scratch, they sure as hell didn't learn that in college.

        • by gstovall (22014) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @10:34AM (#43761869) Homepage

          :) With only a few exceptions, the best software designers I've worked have degrees in engineering, physics, or mathematics. It drives the people with C.S. degrees nuts. :)

          • by gstovall (22014)

            Sorry to reply to my own post.

            I personally don't think holding a degree should even be the primary criteris...

            Am friends with a couple of high ranking software architects at a major (world-wide) package delivery service. One of them has a degree in physics. The other worked his way up from a manual labor job in the shipping department -- he showed a willingness to self teach on computers so he could fix a problem in the shipping department process, and his aptitude, inclination, and hard work propelled hi

        • That's not really true. CS students program, and a lot of them are very good at it. But it's a means to and end, not an end in and of itself. You can do a lot of things on paper in CSâ"and you shouldâ"but there's a practical value to the actual hands on work. Every doctor of chemistry has physically done the lab work themselves at some point, even if most of the work they do as a researcher is simulated.

          The programming that you do in the industry teaches you that good enough is sometimes the best.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        It's just as socially acceptable, but you're deluding yourself if you think that trade school or an apprenticeship are equivalent to what you're getting in college. College itself is about teaching people how to think and right now they aren't doing such a good job of that.

        • Actually, they are thinking. But there a few that are better at it. For example, to agree to a contract where no human can understand it; that is a work of art.
      • by bonehead (6382)

        just because you're a plumber, or a carpenter, or an electrician, doesn't mean you're dumb. Likewise, going to college doesn't mean you're smart.

        Some of the smartest people I know are tradesman. I don't know a lot of plumbers, but I know electricians, carpenters, and mechanics who are absolute geniuses.

        And some of the biggest morons I know have PHDs. They may know a whole lot about their field of study, but that's ALL they know. College professors, in particular, seem to be very unaware of reality and completely lacking in common sense.

      • by GlennC (96879)

        This right here is what needs to stop: just because you're a plumber, or a carpenter, or an electrician, doesn't mean you're dumb. Likewise, going to college doesn't mean you're smart

        I'm not sure where anyone got the idea that I said tradespeople were dumb. I did not mean that at all. My father, who is one of the smartest people I know, is a retired machinist and a high school dropout.

        We need to get back to the idea that learning blue collar work is just as socially acceptable as white collar.

        I agree wholeheartedly, and THIS is what I thought I had said.

      • by hjf (703092)

        I have a friend, he sells networking gear. He has his own company (himself, because he's a control freak). He considers himself better than the technicians. He doesn't keep techs in payroll, but recommends techs in a case-by-case basis. He calls me sometimes (for the really difficult jobs because I'm better skilled than them. That is: i can do anything they can do AND i can do more).

        The difference between him and me: I don't consider myself a better PERSON than the other techs. I know how to wire a RJ45 con

      • by nametaken (610866)

        Amen.

        My dad was a plumber for 30 years. That just happened to be after getting his masters. Most of the programmers and tech drones I've known couldn't hold a candle to him.

        Somewhere along the line we decided that any programmer, IT guy, etc. are somehow smarter than anyone else. We're generally not. Learning to Google a solution to a problem is no more brilliant than anyone else working out how to do their profession.

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      As much as we need competent programmers, DBAs, network administrators, etc., we also need plumbers, carpenters and electricians. Not everyone has the talent or desire for college, and I think we as a society ought to recognize that. Of course, that means less income for colleges and bankers providing student loans, so I'm not surprised that this is being billed as a radical idea.

      One of the worst things that happened to the UK back in the day was the stigmatisation of "trades" and the new idea that to be worth anything you had to get a degree. This had a twofold effect - a lack of people who saw a skilled trade job as a viable option, and a devaluation of the degree as everyone scrambled to offer one that would be suitable for all levels of academic achievement.

      It's something we're still suffering from, and we need to get away from this idea that everyone can have every opportunity

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      There are plenty of service jobs which require local talent. Add HVAC, and CDL licensed truck drivers to your list.

    • by fermion (181285)
      We need technicians that want are good at the job. It really does no good to try to push people to careers that they have no interest in, be it coding, plumbing, driving a bus, or becoming a professional engineer. Obviously the one contraint here is that becoming some of these requires much more training, and specialized skill, than others.

      And the difference in skill is really what guarantees long term income. For instance, suppose you were going into construction. One could start as a framer, or go di

    • But more felds do need a trade school setting or at least more on the job trading.

      IT needs to move to more of a tech school / trade school setting and less college.

    • Not everyone has the talent or desire for college, and I think we as a society ought to recognize that.

      You presume that college requires talent and desire and plumbing does not. Having done both, and having worked with people that have gone through one or the other, if I needed a complex task done and was give the option of choosing a plumber or a "college graduate" I'd pick the plumber every time. College means you're good at taking tests. That's it. You might be good at other things but really, there's no way to tell based on your degree. You don't get to be a plumber until you do an apprenticeship and som

  • Billionaire Mike Bloomberg, whose current job is Mayor of New York City, evidently decided to break the mold by advising less academically adept youngsters to consider a career in plumbing

    Without reading TFA, the key part is "less academically adept". Not everyone is well suited for a CS degree or an MBA

    Perhaps not as plumber specifically, but if someone have no talent or interest for their current degree, they should switch to something else instead of just pushing on (as everyone in CS seems to do)

  • by DeionXxX (261398) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @09:38AM (#43761527)

    People with skills and trades will almost always find work even in shitty economies. If you know how to make something, build something, or fix something that everyone uses, then someone is probably going to pay you to do that.

    My advice to kids, whether family or kids I mentor, is to finish school with a skill. Doesn't matter if it's programming or plumbing.

  • Bloomberg is a pompous, gun grabbing, authoritarian, elitist, fucktard 99.99% of the time. However, he was able to accumulate a fortune, so I guess he knows about money.
    On this point, he's right. As of now, trade schools are probably some of the best deals around in terms of ROI for education. I'd rather be a plumber or an electrician than have a sociology, political science or ethnic studies degree (and the associated debt) from a prestigious university.
    If anyone asks my advice, I tell them to look in

    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      On this point, he's right.

      Sure, as long as demand, relative to supply, holds up. What are the odds? With the influence of unions (which have artifically propped-up trade wages) beginning to go by the wayside and theoretical increased attendance in trade schools (as per Bloomberg's advice), I'd say those odds were slim.

      No, this is yet another case of "do as I say, not as I do" which is the M.O. of successful mouthpieces like Bloomberg. After all, it's not as if he and his ilk are going to actually give the peasants advice that might

      • That is where things like building codes help out because most states require new construction to have licensed trades doing the plumbing and electrical.

    • and degree in the medical field (even the cheaper ones) can lead the more technically minded to work in healthcare IT....That does not mean medical field persons can't get in (I am one that fits that) but there is a lot of desire for people who know how to work in the environment and who can work in IT.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      There are many millionaires running businesses such as used car dealerships and vehicle salvage yards who started as mechanics.

      There are many structural and pipeline welders who moved into owning their own contracting businesses or into inspection or who are making a very nice living in the nuke power station world.

      There are many machinists who moved into owning their own successful machine shops.

    • by Znork (31774)

      Frankly I'd be a bit iffy about the medical field. It has advantages with the guild like features keeping wages high in some positions and there are some obstacles to off-shoring, but it's also a field that will likely come under increasing pressure from AI and robotics in the not too far future. The gains to be made are simply so compelling and anything from diagnostics to surgery is potentially better done by machines (which in turn, due to the nature of the field, means that having an actual human doing

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @09:48AM (#43761589)
    If you love working on cars and want to be a mechanic, you don't go to college for engineering, you go to trade school and get certified. If you want to work on planes, you go get your A&P, you don't get a degree in aeronautical engineering. We need people to fix our cars, unclog our pipes, weld stuff, etc. These jobs aren't glamorous, but they are stable, pay much better than you think, and can be obtained by attending a much cheaper trade school than going to a university. I currently work part-time doing unskilled labor, and one guy I work with, after only being there 7 years, makes over 70k a year working no more overtime than many salaried employees. When he tops out in 3 more years he will probably be making close to, if not more than $100k. And this is in a job that requires no more than a high school diploma.
    • . I currently work part-time doing unskilled labor, and one guy I work with, after only being there 7 years, makes over 70k a year working no more overtime than many salaried employees. When he tops out in 3 more years he will probably be making close to, if not more than $100k. And this is in a job that requires no more than a high school diploma.

      Where the hell do you live and what kind of job pays an unskilled laborer $100k/yr? (I'm presuming in USD.) More to the point, what the tax rate and cost of liv

      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        Where the hell do you live and what kind of job pays an unskilled laborer $100k/yr? (I'm presuming in USD.) More to the point, what the tax rate and cost of living where you are?

        Atlanta airport, working on the ramp. A single person can easily live here for 30k a year, if not less. And remember, that 100k is with OT of time and a half. He has 7 years, pay scale tops out at 10 years. First year is about 1800 a month, 10 years gets you mid 4k a month. And that is base.

  • by dakohli (1442929) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @09:50AM (#43761599)

    There is nothing wrong with becoming a Tradesman. Plumber, Electrician, Welder or Mechanic, etc

    Just as we need Engineers, Nurses and Lawyers (I can't believe I'm including Lawyers!), we need the folks that keep our machines running. Just as not everyone has the money, or the aptitude to become a Doctor, I know many people who do not have the abilities to become a carpenter or metal worker.

    I don't much care for the way some look down on the tradesmen that keep things running. Where I live there is a shortage of plumbers and electricians. Out west there is a shortage of carpenters. As a resul the ones that do exist command high wages, and are busy with lots of work. All this without the debilitating school loans that many University Graduates have.

    From my perspective, it sounds like good advice

    • I look down on them because of their widespread bad business practices: the majority of the time you can expect price gouging and poor workmanship. They'd be better off working for Microsoft with that attitude.
      • by dakohli (1442929)

        I look down on them because of their widespread bad business practices: the majority of the time you can expect price gouging and poor workmanship. They'd be better off working for Microsoft with that attitude.

        OUCH!

        I'm sorry that you have experienced the worst side of the human experience. It has certainly not been mine. Yes, I have encountered the occasional scammer, but by and large the tradesmen I have had direct contact with have been honest. I have heard people complain about the $50/hr plumber or mechanic, so they hire the $20/hr guy who comes in and does a crappy job, then they end up paying a competent worker the 50 bucks an hour anyways to make it right.

        If you hire someone who takes you to the cleane

    • Just as we need [...] Lawyers (I can't believe I'm including Lawyers!),

      Explain to me why we need lawyers again?

      • Hiring price fighters to aid you in arguments with your !"$%# neighbor is more expensive, and if the neighbor hires their own fraught with high risks for YOU.

        I think I prefer lawyers, after thinking about this for a few seconds.

  • by capedgirardeau (531367) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @09:52AM (#43761609)

    The most insulting part of his statement is that a hands on trades type job is just for the less academically adept.

    While I am partial to electrician work, a trades type job is great for just about anyone.

    I am actually getting out of software development full time and working toward becoming a professional electrician because I am very into renewable energy and would love to work outside installing solar and wind equipment.

    Electrician, plumber, carpenter, mechanic, heavy equipment operator, landscaper, etc are all great jobs for a person who wants to do them, academically adept or not. Suggesting they are only for "less"er people is insulting, stigmatizing and shameful.

    • by cnaumann (466328)

      Because it is unrealistic to expect the less academically adept folk to go onto college, get a degree and a job that requires one. It is exactly the same thing as advising the less athletically adept folks to look at jobs that do not require them to be professional athletes. This does not mean that Engineering is only for non-athletes.

      The statement should be obvious, but it really is not. In the last several decades we seem to have fallen into the belief that college is for everyone. It really isn't. Peopl

      • by minsk (805035)

        I'd rather see "more practically adept" going into trades than "less academically adept". But while there's a social stigma attached, it is going to be the people who aren't capable of doing a white-collar job (plus the few who want to do a trade anyway). So the average contractor stays expensive, overworked, and incompetent.

        If folks are neither practically adept nor academically adept? No clue. Retail? Unskilled labor until they lose a limb?

  • If your job can be automated, it will be automated. Most jobs that involve sitting in front of a desk at a computer will be automated as AI improves. AI won't get rid of *all* the jobs, but it does allow one person to do the work that at one stage would have required many people. Plumber is bloody hard to automate and it's pretty difficult to come up with software that allows one plumber to do the work that five plumbers did a couple of years ago.
  • But doesn't address how we could reshape our educational system to fit that new model. Perhaps make high school six years, with the last two intensive training in trade specialties, for those going that route, and college core courses for those going on.

    That would change college from 4 years to 2 and let them focus on specialties, almost like a finishing school.

    Everyone goes to school until they're 20, with an option to learn a trade, then you're on your own.

    • Re:He's right (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday May 18, 2013 @10:04AM (#43761669) Homepage
      In European countries where people go to school until the age of 19 or 20, and where trade school pupils have their own track, a university degree programme still lasts five or six years (because an M.A. is considered the basic degree, not a B.A. like in the US). So, longer high school wouldn't necessary lead to shorter university studies.
    • Actually I think that the first 2 years of high school should focus on things you will need to survive: money management, how financing works and why revolving credit is not a good thing; reading and writing.
      The second 2 years should allow either continued academic *or* tradescraft. fo you go the tradescraft route you'll get two years focused on only the stuff you need for a particular field. Plumbing: math and geometry (drain slopes), chemistry (solvents and glues, interaction with metals), and of course

  • When I hear people complaining that they can't find skilled people, the part they usually leave off is "I can't find skilled people....for the amount of money I want to pay."
    If there's a shortage in the market, then the value goes up, attracting more people, so there shouldn't be a problem in the long term.
    The mayor did have a valid point that there's nothing that makes a lawyer worth more respect than a plumber, other than class behaviors.
    I'm not sure how much respect of a profession matters in attrac
  • Get paying on those loans... the Dept. of Education needs more money to roll in.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/obama-student-loans-policy-profit_n_3276428.html [huffingtonpost.com]

  • by lennier1 (264730) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @10:23AM (#43761799)

    Bloomberg made his money off the finance industry and he's in politics.
    Trust him when he says that the world will never run out of assholes.

  • by Irate Engineer (2814313) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @10:25AM (#43761809)
    I teach engineering at a maritime academy and it dazzles me that so many students pay through the nose and suffer through 4+ years of regimented academics for a license that they could get by just sailing as a paid vessel assistant for a few years after high school and taking a Coast Guard examination. This is a practice called hawsepiping and used to be the norm for the profession. Marine engineers are really (for the most part) mechanics, and much simpler vocational school would be more than adequate for these jobs.

    Admittedly the students also get a "marine engineering degree" over and above the training for the license that is transferrable to a lot of shore-side professions, but most of that is lost on the students. All they care about is getting the license and many whine and cry about having to read, write, do math, and take engineering coursework. I do think that degree is worth what they pay, but it really a form of insurance so they can remain employed after they come ashore, and getting 20 year old boys who aspire to be sailors to think about what they are going to do later in life (hell, later in the *day*) is hard.
  • Because for most people, college is trade school for people "too good" to go to trade school. That's putting it charitably since for the majority, it's probably just a 4 year extended vacation with some academics.

    The reality is that most people would be substantially better off if they had parents that actually stayed together by that age in their lives and would let them work full time while living at home to build a really large amount of savings. In terms of material prosperity they'd have little to no d

  • by tlambert (566799) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @10:53AM (#43762029)

    Is the end goal of life a high salary?

    I understand his advice, if followed, and if you work your way, either through trade school or apprenticeship, to journeyman, and then to master, you can expect a $80K+ a year income.

    Is this the end-all, be-all of human existence?

    A high salary is not why I went into the sciences - I went in with a passion for knowledge and knowing how things work, and why, and how to build things that, because they were barely within the boundaries of the rules, did amazing and astonishing things. A high salary resulted because I was successful at pursuing this passion.

    I would instead advise people to try to find three things for which they feel passion, and are good at, and then find someone willing to pay you to do one of them.

    If you can only find one thing for which you have passion, if you can still find someone to pay you to do it, then you are ahead of the game, compared to what Bloomberg suggest, if it happens that none of your objects of passion include plumbing.

    There are plenty of people who look at the top end paychecks available in a profession, and choose a profession on that basis. Those who do will never reach the top end of that pay range if they do not posses a passion for the profession; they will always be middle tier, and they will watch the clock until it is time to check out from their job, and "get back to their 'real' life". This is where a lot of unemployed IT "professionals" come from.

    For those clock watching 8 hours of their day, they will be miserable, working at something for which they have no passion, having intentionally turned their soul off for those eight hours in exchange for money. They will sell half their waking life into misery to benefit the other half of their waking life. And at the end of the day in their "real life", they will find they can not take joy in their "real life", as they anticipate, after sleeping, returning to their job for the next 8 soulless hours of work.

    Do something you love, and for which you have passion; reclaim your soul for those lost 8 hours of your life.

    • by Shados (741919)

      No, but a LOT of people go to college without any interest in it, and then just pick a random degree because its what everyone is doing. Then hate it, they do poorly, then they can't find a job, and their life sucks.

      They went to college not because they wanted to, but because there is a social stigma that you HAVE to.

      I was in highschool back when IT wasn't all that big. My grades in every honor classes were off the chart (ok, not in english obviously), and decided to go in IT...not computer science, IT. I w

  • If there was a local hiring apprentice plumbers near me, I would not think twice about ditching IT forever.
  • Art and Science (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gim Tom (716904) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @11:02AM (#43762095)
    Even 40+ years ago, when I got my BS in engineering, any sort of hands on experience was disappearing from the requirements. Even the lab instructors often didn't know how to use some of the instruments (Oscilloscopes, signal generators, etc.) or how to troubleshoot a circuit that wasn't doing what the design said it should.

    Engineering is really a combination of Art and Science and no one can learn to be an Artist from a book. Technology needs both and both are required to keep the modern world working. I am in awe and have utmost respect for a skilled craftsman/artisan and our world needs more of them.

    I am a third generation engineer, and many decades ago my Father often told me that I should be a plumber or an auto mechanic and there were many times during my working career that I realized just how right he probably was.
  • by night_flyer (453866) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @11:15AM (#43762181) Homepage

    there has been too much of an emphasis in the last 10-20 years for EVERYONE to go to college, whether they were really qualified or not, that the technical trades have been neglected.

  • ... fontanero.

  • by MLBs (2637825) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @11:31AM (#43762291)
    A plumber goes to a doctor's house to fix a leak.
    He works for 15 minutes and then asks the doctor for $200
    The doctor says "I don't even make close to that!!"
    The plumber replies: "When I was a doctor, I didn't either"
  • by nebular (76369) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @11:32AM (#43762293) Homepage

    The Trades have been overlooked as a viable career choice for quite awhile. And there's great money in it. My mechanic, being one of the few truly honest ones in the area, is turning business away he's so booked (Yes he is expanding to meet demand).

    The trouble with trades these days is you often get the bottom of the barrel guys without many other options available (One could say the same for police, but that's a whole other story). So your mechanics, plumbers, electricians often won't give a crap about the client and only the pay-cheque. When you find an honest trades person you are loyal to a fault and become their greatest advertisement.

    So yeah push those who might not the top of the heap academically but aren't the bottom by any means into trades.

  • The key question today is to chose a job that can't be offshored and pays a decent salary. Medicine is the sweet spot but the rest of us have to be creative.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @11:43AM (#43762371)

    Over 100 posts and not a single Super Mario reference...

  • by I_am_Jack (1116205) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @11:44AM (#43762389)
    Being a plumber is the only reliable way of getting the benefits of trickle down from a plutocrat.
  • Here's where he misses the boat: Nobody should do a job they don't enjoy if it is avoidable.

    I'd much rather work for less money and enjoy my job than hate my job and have more money. This of course assumes both paths are fully available and that I don't have an enormous money problem.

    Jobs you enjoy lead to passion, and passionate work often leads to promotions, business opportunities, other interesting work, side projects, etc.

    I'm an engineer. I recently moved to a job where I get paid less and the cost of

  • by meglon (1001833) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @12:35PM (#43762753)
    Too bad for the summary that "Joe the plumber" wasn't actually "Joe," but Sam; wasn't actually a plumber, but an apprentice plumber (not licensed); and at the time of the question that made him a conservative darling, was outright lying (the business wasn't up for sale, he couldn't have afforded it even if it was, nor could he have run it because he wasn't a plumber).

    All that aside, we should be reforming out high schools and advanced learning to be more similar to Germany, where people who want to pursue academic careers can get to college, and people who want to pursue vocational careers can get into technical schools. High school is where that really begins, where people start building interests that will stick with them for life.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @01:10PM (#43763071) Homepage

    The trouble with being a plumber is that most of the work is in building and remodeling. With housing construction way down, most of the people in the building trades are hurting. It's great during a building boom, though.

    A related trade is HVAC - heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. There's more electronics and control involved than in plumbing.

  • by ndykman (659315) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @05:50PM (#43764705)

    That's a great plan for society. Leave knowledge to the elite; they are they only ones that can afford it. You don't learn anything useful in college, so why bother. Heck, high school is kind of pointless. Why not start a trade at sixteen, that's more money is your pocket. Why not fourteen? That's the ticket. Leave that higher education to those elite know-it-alls.

    We don't need to value teachers, educators at all; the internet will fix that with some YouTube videos. After all, you don't understand that stuff, so how can it possibly be worth anything? Let's be honest, not everyone can be educated. You know deep down that you aren't smart Best not to try.

    That's a world worth living in. Call it the New Dark Ages. College prices are a concern because they are pricing out people from becoming educated, from having choices. College is not the problem; the cost is. Cheaper loans, more grants and scholarships, more public support all need to be considered alongside cost controls. Sure, it's not for everyone, but it should be a choice for everyone. Everyone can benefit from a higher education, from learning. Smart has nothing to do with it.

    An uneducated populous is ripe for exploitation. History (one of those "useless" subjects) teaches us this. Look to the source of this advice, the value of controlling knowledge and the media in this age. Why bother thinking for yourself when you can have somebody do it for you?

    There is value in culture, in art, in science that goes beyond money. It is crazy that we are so focused on what it takes to survive these days, not thrive and grow. We don't have to embrace a gold-paved road to a new Dark Age. We can do better.

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @09:08PM (#43765527) Homepage

    Ouch! And hey, like a lawyer, a plumber can always dabble in politics."

    Unfortunately it didnt go well the first time around, since the unstoppable leaks gave us Watergate.

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)

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