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Education United States

High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University (npr.org) 578

An anonymous reader shares an NPR report: While a shortage of workers is pushing wages higher in the skilled trades, the financial return from a bachelor's degree is softening, even as the price -- and the average debt into which it plunges students -- keeps going up. But high school graduates have been so effectively encouraged to get a bachelor's that high-paid jobs requiring shorter and less expensive training are going unfilled. This affects those students and also poses a real threat to the economy. "Parents want success for their kids," said Mike Clifton, who teaches machining at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, about 20 miles from Seattle. "They get stuck on [four-year bachelor's degrees], and they're not seeing the shortage there is in tradespeople until they hire a plumber and have to write a check."

In a new report, the Washington State Auditor found that good jobs in the skilled trades are going begging because students are being almost universally steered to bachelor's degrees. Among other things, the Washington auditor recommended that career guidance -- including choices that require less than four years in college -- start as early as the seventh grade. "There is an emphasis on the four-year university track" in high schools, said Chris Cortines, who co-authored the report. Yet, nationwide, three out of 10 high school grads who go to four-year public universities haven't earned degrees within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. At four-year private colleges, that number is more than 1 in 5.

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High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University

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  • He got it right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blogagog ( 1223986 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:33PM (#56507907)
    I guess Mike Rowe was right all along!
  • by kiwipom ( 920352 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:36PM (#56507915)
    In my 20 years of working in software development, a bachelor's degree and any further is a waste of time. The best coders I've worked with are musicians as well as coders. I work in an investment bank in the risk department, I've worked on a number of systems where the Quants (all with PhDs in maths or physics) developed a prototype in C++ and mocked when we said we'd build the real system in Java. However our systems in all of the projects were at least a magnitude faster than the Quant systems, not because Java is faster than C++, but because the development team knew how to code for performance. Coding is incredibly complicated, to be good, only experience pays.
    • by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:44PM (#56508003)

      It is not that complicated. People need to be trained properly. I have never met anyone who was trained properly. I taught myself and devoured blogs, books, forums for years that involved discussions around best practices, patterns, and case studies to hone myself into a professional developer. Most people devour reddit.

      • Agreed. This is actually the way the better developers I've known have done it.
      • by jwymanm ( 627857 )
        "It is not that complicated" next sentence.. "Took me years of devouring every source on the matter I could find". In other words: programming properly is complicated. Don't underestimate the amount of practice, precision, and expertise that goes into doing it just because you accomplished it after years of studying what others spent years of studying what others spent years of studying... etc. It takes constant work to even handle the updates all of your depends do these days.
    • by CodeHog ( 666724 )
      I want to disagree with you since I went to college but you're not wrong when you say "Coding is incredibly complicated, to be good, only experience pays". I think were college helps is to get you access to the material and equipment when no other means may exist. When I got my degree personal computers were still fairly new and expensive, 1000$ for a home setup, and that was easily a down payment on a car so homes were rushing out to buy them. My kid went into physics and you don't find my homes with line
    • by mark-t ( 151149 )

      In theory, I agree... but in my experience, an employer won't even look at you sideways if you don't have any job experience experience yet and don't have that piece of paper that gets your foot in the door. You can sidestep this requirement if you happen to be well connected with the right kinds of people in your target industry, but if you don't happen to have such connections, then it doesn't matter worth shit how good you might be. Your talent will be wasted only doing things as no more than a "hobby

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Depending on what type of coding you do, you may need a lot more of education. true, most coding jobs need only some formal education, but a lot of talent, dedication and drive. But there are those that need a lot more. If you are going for one (IT security is an example), do not scoff on that education and make sure to get the most of it. I had to prove formal properties to make things work in the real world. And while that happens rarely, if it happens it is the only thing that helps. Again, most coders,

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lord Kano ( 13027 )

      Where I live, it's hard to get past the HR drones if you don't have at least a BS on your rèsumè. They'll bin in as soon as they see it without a 4 year degree.

      My experience with coders has been mixed. I have known some good programmers without much of an educational background in CS/IS and I have known some garbage self-taught programmers.

      When I was a co-op and finishing my BS, I was working as a programmer for a big company. One of the other guys there was a decent dotNET programmer and he was s

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      What I learned in lectures at university was mostly a waste of time, but the experience wasn't. I had time to develop my own skills as a developer without the pressures of work.

      Well, not entirely true, I did learn that Ada is an awful language that I should avoid at all costs.

    • by jma05 ( 897351 )

      Getting a PhD is very little about coding, even with a CS PhD. Expecting so would be the equivalent of expecting a novelist to be as fast as a professional typist.

      No one gets a PhD to become a superior coder, nor do they mostly even care. Math and Physics PhDs typically code better than an average coder, only because they are generally intelligent to begin with, not much because of any training and experience they received while doing their PhD. Of course, they cannot out-code a professional in a competitiv

  • Looked down on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:37PM (#56507923) Homepage

    The reason for this is the current generation looks down on blue collar work thinking that its beneath them. This myth is propagated by many high schools with the elimination of shop and auto mechanics classes.

    This isn't helped at the university level where lots of liberal teachers preach that blue collar workers are nothing but a bunch of dumb hicks that are not smart enough to find something better.

    Truth be told lots of the blue collar work today requires ether at least one advanced degree or months of apprenticeship.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ryanrule ( 1657199 )
      You had a good point until you went foolish in the second paragraph.
      • Re:Looked down on (Score:5, Informative)

        by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:53PM (#56508073) Homepage

        Still a good point and it is true. But I guess it depends on what state you are in. Less so in the midwest and south. But more true in the new england and west cost regions.

        • Re:Looked down on (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mlw4428 ( 1029576 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @02:32PM (#56508419)
          Do you have examples? Specifics? I keep seeing this myth propagated and all I get back is "well dude this one professor TOTALLY said that in between his EEEBILL LIBERAL HIPPIE LECTURES".
      • Re:Looked down on (Score:5, Interesting)

        by GLMDesigns ( 2044134 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @02:22PM (#56508321)
        Except that was my experience also. I worked my way through college working as a roofer and carpenter. I had more than one professors turned their nose up at it saying that I wouldn't "learn" anything by working as a carpenter. They said working in a book store would be better (it was a fraction of my take home pay).

        It took me 8 years to finish college but I didn't have a cent of student debt.
        • Re:Looked down on (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @02:45PM (#56508519)

          A lot of academics would benefit hugely from working as a roofer or carpenter for a year or so. It provides a connection to _reality_. For engineers it is so invaluable that some really good universities require something like it.

        • Same here, ended up being an electrician for several years while the people that called me a dumb hick worked at fast food joints with their worthless degrees.

    • Re:Looked down on (Score:4, Insightful)

      by KixWooder ( 5232441 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:52PM (#56508069)

      This isn't helped at the university level where lots of liberal teachers preach that blue collar workers are nothing but a bunch of dumb hicks that are not smart enough to find something better.

      Eight years of college/grad school and I never, not even once, heard anything remotely close to that.

      Enough with the hyperbole.

      • They don't say it directly. It comes from constantly promoting office jobs as the thing to aim for while ignoring and marginalizing trades.

        • They don't say it directly. It comes from constantly promoting office jobs as the thing to aim for while ignoring and marginalizing trades.

          You mean from teachers, at a university, teaching things appropriate for an office job, to students presumably there to learn things for an office job? While people learning trade skills are presumably at trade schools learning things appropriate for trade jobs. Even at schools that offer both types of education, you'd only be exposed to those teachers teaching the things you wanted to learn, for the type of job you wanted.

          So... your argument makes no actual sense; stop projecting.

        • Like the GP, I disagree, and I a) come from a blue collar family, and b) spent about a decade in college doing various degrees. Not only were office jobs not promoted, the trades weren't ever marginalized. I don't know if you've ever gone to college, but having done so three times, my experience was that there was a distinct lack of career planning, and most of the focus was on learning new shit.

          Hell, the last time I went to grad school we worked with the trades all the time to maintain the infrastructure f

      • Re:Looked down on (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Etcetera ( 14711 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @02:15PM (#56508259) Homepage

        8 years of undergrad (long story) and I heard that on several occasions at my west-coast state university. Moreso after going back in the 2008-2011 time frame than in the late 90s time frame.

        I was in a lot of humanities classes and the comments invariably came from the more left-wing professors. Ironically, it wasn't the pure thought ones (I ended up with a Philosophy BA), but the Political Science/Sociology ones that were usually the worst.

      • Ah yes, because YOU, personally, have never experienced this, it hasn't happened to anyone.

    • Unions (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The reason for this is the current generation looks down on blue collar work thinking that its beneath them. This myth is propagated by many high schools with the elimination of shop and auto mechanics classes.

      No.

      The reason for this is protectionist unions. Trades are protected by unions that have trade walls up to prevent people from entering the profession. You should be able to take a practical test and become a plumber or electrician. Instead you have to spend years working with someone who belongs to a group with more power in the union (i.e. someone already in the field which is self-regulating). It's a ridiculous barrier to entry that costs the public a fortune.

      Unions have a place. Deliberately hurting con

    • by aix tom ( 902140 )

      The time in my life where I learned the most was probably my (German) electrician apprenticeship (which took three and a half years)

      From interaction with panicked customers, to finding the fault in some obscure decades old machinery, to changing tires in a snowstorm, and even going out binge-drinking with colleagues.

      Then I switched to IT during the dot-com boom at the turn of the millennium (because back then IT was way cooler). But I'm currently thinking about going "back out" for the last 10-15 years of m

    • Re:Looked down on (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @02:46PM (#56508527) Journal
      True facts:
      Of all the engineers I've worked with my entire life, the best ones are almost always the ones who were technicians while they were working through college.
      One of the best engineers I've ever worked with didn't even have a college degree, but a body of work (read as: real-life experience) that exceeded a college degree.
      Having a college degree doesn't mean you actually know anything -- or that you know how to do anything. Experience is still King.
      On the Internet, I've had conversations with (?) kids playing around with Arduinos and Raspberry Pis who thought that all 'analog electronics' was 'old-fashioned' and 'obsolete' and that 'nobody uses that stuff for anything anymore, everything is digital'. Imagine the denial and arguments that ensued when I started educating them that without so-called 'obsolete, old-fashioned' analog electronics, none of their microcontrollers would even exist.

      Without intelligent, hard-working people willing to get their hands dirty, we wouldn't have houses to live in, roads to drive on, cars to drive on those roads, food to eat, clean water coming out of the tap, or pretty much anything else you care to name -- and without all the infrastructure, there wouldn't be any 'high tech' or much of anything else. We'd all be scratching in the dirt trying just to survive. I've met some pretty damned intelligent and creative people who aren't working in high tech fields, because they enjoy working with their hands. Looking down on someone who is 'blue collar' is ridiculous.
  • ... and then send them to public schools and college to get a job later? Whatever happened to entrepreneurship and starting one's own business?
  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:38PM (#56507943)
    Get an electrical, civil, or mechanical engineering degree. Best of all worlds... In some states, this cuts years off the apprenticeship time needed to become a tradesman like an electrician, plumber, or general contractor. You can also go for a PE certification and eventually manage building/renovation sites.
    • Cuts years off the apprenticeship, but adds decades to a student loan.

      Highschool students today need to be taught how to do cost analysis, so when it comes time to pay for college they understand what they're signing up for.

      • Public universities are cheap in the states that care more about education than sports. You can go to CUNY or SUNY for about $7500/yr, less if you get an Empire Scholarship. Given a job for a year or two out of college, this pays off quickly.
  • Stay out of IT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:38PM (#56507945)

    I counsel any young person that is curious to stay out of IT.

    Do not get trapped in an office your whole life.
    Stay away from IT because it is always understaffed and overworked. Yeah, you make good money but your health goes to shit and your ability to impact is often limited.

    I suggest hands-on engineering where you get to go outside and travel to different sites....things like HVAC tech, aircraft engineer, electrician, or something involving industrial controls or construction.

    It is very tough to find a good company to work for in IT--have to get lucky. There is no standardized skill verification so you often end up working with a bunch of hacks who poke around in a GUI who have little idea what is going on behind the scenes. Your attempts to fend off disaster go ignored and those who recover from disasters get all the credit--even if they caused it.

    If you love tech....make it your own...do your own thing and love it. Stay away from corporations.

    • Or at least get good enough at IT to be a freelance contractor. Problem is that you'll still probably be putting out other people's fires/cleaning up messes vs doing your own designs or conduction original research.
    • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

      I counsel any young person that is curious to stay out of IT.

      That is actually very good advice. I have a IT job and I do love it but that is because I actually do like what I do. I know plenty of IT workers that hate their jobs because it's not what they do.

      I plan to stick with IT for a few more years then go back to school and obtain my third degree in ether a science like physics or paleontology/archeology. Some thing like that.

      • Do it! But do it soon, lest you put it off and find yourself as a 50-year-old with a family to take care of.
        • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

          Do it! But do it soon, lest you put it off and find yourself as a 50-year-old with a family to take care of.

          Actually, i"m approaching 50 and the family has already been taken care of. This is my plans after I pass that goal.

    • by Jahoda ( 2715225 )
      I counsel any young person that is curious to stay out of IT.

      I.T. has been an extremely lucrative and rewarding career for many of us. If I were counseling a young person, what I would tell them is to not be another degree less IT guy, the kind who finds themselves reasonably well paid at 30, but for whom management is closed due to lack of this qualification. Or, the even likelier scenario of the best corporate IT gigs being closed off to you because "Gosh, you have 15 years of experience, but no
      • but for whom management is closed due to lack of this qualification

        Said as if that's a bad thing...

        I worked IT for 35. Turned down several management positions not because I lacked a viable degree but because, fuck, why in hell do I want to do management?

      • If you have the qualification and desire, work oversees.
        No one ever asked for my degree ...
        I just show them my resume and if they want give my previous customers as reference so they can call my ex manager.

        E.g. if you get a "nice" Job in Thailand, the living cost is so low, you can save about 75% of your money after taxes.
        In most european countries, what you CAN DO is more important than a degree, exceptions might be France and a bit UK.

        • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

          If you have the qualification and desire, work oversees.

          This to is very good advice. I would recommend that anyone that has the chance at least spend 2 years of their lives outside the U.S. Working overseas and being exposed to different cultures does a world of good to curing that U.S.centrist out look many Americans tend to have.

          • Well,
            the risk is that they never come back (except for vacations)
            It is funny what effects it has if you are mandatory by law required to take your 25 work days vacation per year.
            I forgot to mention: if you go to Netherlands or Denmark, your work environment will most likely be english speaking anyway.
            Even in Germany I had teams where all meetings and written communication was english.

            • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

              It is funny what effects it has if you are mandatory by law required to take your 25 work days vacation per year

              A lot of my fellow countrymen/women wouldn't know a good vacation if it bit them on the ass. Piling on to a floating petri dish at sea or losing all my money in Las Vegas does not a good vacation make. My vacation this will be a week spent on a train with a good book.

              I hear that you have excellent trains in Europe....

      • I have known quite a few managers (VP, C-level) with associates degrees. I have an associates degree and no one cares. They are constantly trying to bring me into the management club. I do not suggest IT management where you end up losing your skills. When I attend working groups (SQL Saturdays etc..) there are a lot of older people who are not in management but who lead and run serious projects and conduct research. These people are irreplaceable. After being brought into management the perception of

  • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:40PM (#56507967)
    I believe Mike Rowe [youtu.be] has been trying to get the US to take notice of this for quite a few years.
  • by fropenn ( 1116699 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:40PM (#56507977)
    There is nothing preventing someone from pursuing plumbing (or electrical work, or HVAC, etc.) after earning a bachelor's degree. A smart college would create just this sort of program - a combination bachelor's degree in a non-work-specific area (say, medieval theology) with something that directly prepares someone for a job, like plumbing.

    In any case, earning a bachelor's degree should be about the long-term opportunities rather than that first job. When the robot plumbers enter the workforce, you'd better have something to support your ability to transition to something else.
    • Plumber vs IT? Either way, you're dealing with someone else's shit.

    • medieval theology

      In other words... theology. :)

    • by taustin ( 171655 )

      There is nothing preventing someone from pursuing plumbing (or electrical work, or HVAC, etc.) after earning a bachelor's degree.

      There's the exact same nothing wrong with doing so without bothering with a bachelor's degree and tens of thousand of dollars in student loans, either.

      When the robot plumbers enter the workforce, you'd better have something to support your ability to transition to something else.

      I've done plumbing work. No robot will do so during our lifetimes, outside if - perhaps - a trailer park home manufacturing plant (and I wouldn't bet on that, either).

      There's a reason plumbers make as much as doctors.

  • So that is about 19% of the adult job-seeking population of the US. That makes sense.

    But, that still means 81% of people should go to college ( if they have hopes of being a primary provider ).

    But Only like 34% of American's are getting bachelors degrees right now (44% for associates+).

    Sources: https://www.kff.org/other/stat... [kff.org]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_attainment_in_the_United_States

    • College degrees are for the bulk of those obtaining them, utterly worthless, except that some jobs require them for no functional reason.
  • by Jahoda ( 2715225 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @01:50PM (#56508045) Homepage
    Yet, nationwide, three out of 10 high school grads who go to four-year public universities haven't earned degrees within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. At four-year private colleges, that number is more than 1 in 5

    soooo, what you're telling us that 70% of public university students and 80% pf private university students successfully complete their degree?
  • That's the reason. Society prized white collars for so long that not being one pushes you towards the "fringe of society" so-to-speak.
    "I'm a plumber" gives you raised eyebrows and simple girls no matter how much money you make.

    Personally I don't care what someone's job is and I don't want to know - but at the same time I acknowledge I'm part of a minority.

  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkRookie ( 5030953 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @02:00PM (#56508125)
    I work as an electrician for a year and a half.
    Fuck all that noise. Way too fucking hot. The pay was bad. The hours worse.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by datavirtue ( 1104259 )

      A measly year and a half? WTF did you expect in that time? Devour the shit jobs and you earn the right to be somebody.

      • Still way too fucking hot. Digging trenches for pipes in 90 degree heat and 90% humidity is not fun.
        I started at 10 an hour (this was back in 2006). 10 an hour is not enough to deal with that shit. You cant really even live off that.
        Working 72 hours a week with measly pay is not great. It was just work and sleep. Work and sleep.

        Did pick up a couple of useful skills. I can wire lights, ceiling fans, and outlets without help.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @02:03PM (#56508143)
    $50k/yr in Seattle in 2018 is not high paying. This is a young guy with no real bills yet. No kid's college fund, parents still alive to help out with the occasional emergency like a totaled car. Not trying to buy a house in a neighborhood with good schools. Etc, etc.

    I've read the median needed for a stable middle class life is around $100k. I'm making close to that after 40 years of struggling and I can tell you it's about right. You don't realize how hard it is when you haven't spent the first 20 working years building wealth.
    • this is brutally hard work. With the exception of a few genetic freaks you're not going to be doing it in your 50s let alone your 60s. And you're not going to be packing away much on $50k in Seattle. Not when you start having kids.
  • I don't get why you are not doing what every other nation/sane person is doing: study in a foreign country.
    In Germany the fees for a year, e.g. at www.kit.edu, are 3000EUR per year. Depending from what country you come and your financial situation there are waivers for it. Of course most classes will be in German.
    But Chinese students obviously have no problem with that. And for an english speaking person, German is a super easy to pick up language.

    On the other hand you could study in Netherlands or Denmark

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It doesn't matter that a journeyman plumber can charge $70 an hour. The plumber is RARELY going to have 40 hours of work in a week. If they find 20 hours of work they are doing great. Same with contractors. A contractor can have 8 months of work building a house or doing a total renovation followed by 6 months of no work at all. It's wildly unpredictable work. An office drone goes in and does his 40-50 hours and collects his salary like clockwork every week. He doesn't need to worry about any union shop fin

    • This happens in IT contracting too. I've avoided it for that reason, but contractors I've worked with love the higher pay and freedom. The huge downside is the feast-or-famine nature, and constantly having to hustle your next job. If you can't sell, it doesn't matter how much of a rockstar you are.

  • by Dallas May ( 4891515 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @02:16PM (#56508265)

    Blue collar jobs like that are really hard friggin' work. Really hard work. There is a reason your grandfather encouraged your father to go to college instead of following in his footsteps. It's because the work really sucks. And if you are injured on the job, disability pays 50% what you were making and you don't have an education or skills to fall back on anything else. And you will lose your health care. And retirement plan.

    These jobs suck. Go to college.

    • by bigmacx ( 135216 )

      Some people like working with their hands to physically craft a new of existing set of atoms in some way. Not everyone is a keyboard warrior. Some of them like those jobs because there is frequent local travel and diversity of locations and people. I would surmise in your example, those kinds of grandfathers worked at one place, probably with very little movement during the workday, and just battled the same mechanical device in the same location everyday. Most blue collar jobs are not like that anymore.

  • ...a college degree becoming the modern day equivalent of the High School diploma of years past. Our society knows primary school is trash taught mostly by failures and underachievers whose underlying motivation is to make everyone feel as bad as they do and perform as badly as they have. Their greatest success is convincing us we need them in order to learn. I don't know what the solution is but I know what the problem looks like.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @02:19PM (#56508279)

    A lot of people like to dismiss a college education as too abstract, overly intellectual, etc. and it can be. But, skilled trades have a tendency to have a pay cap and less room for upward mobility once you hit it. In fact, unless you're in a strong-union state and are working for union employers, there's bound to be downward pressure on wages from people who are willing to work for less. Unionized trade jobs are the only ones where you have a chance at a full career's worth of compensation progression.

    Both a college degree and a trip through trade school/apprenticeship are lottery tickets for life. You can only buy one, hoping it will pay off, and it doesn't for everyone. Some plumbers/electricians make more than I do and own a business that allows them way more financial freedom than I have. Some are stuck in the equivalent of gig-economy world doing handyman-type jobs. And, some people graduate from college and end up doing very well...while others either drop out or don't pick up any marketable skills along the way. (If you really win the education lottery and get into an Ivy League school, there are opportunities that just aren't available to anyone else such as investment banking and management consulting...and once you're in that club you can't really fail too badly.)

    Given the choice, I'd still choose to do a bachelors' degree. Unless you're going into academics, anything more is too much. I barely use any of my formal education in my job (BS in chemistry, and i do systems engineering work.) But it did get me in the door, and it's essentially the minimum standard now for all non-trade jobs. One thing I do think post-secondary education helps with is maturing kids to a certain degree. A stint in the military would do this too, and maybe a good apprenticeship program would. But, having a bridge from childhood to adulthood where you're allowed to make a few stupid mistakes that aren't life-altering can be a good thing.

  • Yet, nationwide, three out of 10 high school grads who go to four-year public universities haven't earned degrees within six years

    So that means there should be plenty of young people available to go into skilled trades.

    The problem is the same reason those trades are "High-paying" - because the supply of trained people is kept artificially low in order to keep the pay up.

  • by mlw4428 ( 1029576 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @02:42PM (#56508493)
    My family (both blood and marriage) has multiple trades people. A good lot of them tend to get put on suspension and have to draw from unemployment for multiple months during the slow seasons. The ones that are gainfully employed year-round make about as much as I make, but when they're 50 or so they're seeing chiropractors, doctors, and are dealing with a variety of health issues.

    College also has prepared me by exposing me to more general forms of knowledge. Philosophy, basic finance, mathematics, and how to do research and communicate and validate. It's been my own personal anecdotal experience that these tradesmen are often the easy targets of misinformation. They often believe in crap like Alex Jones, health supplements (delaying their medical care because of "big pharma" by using bullshit like rose hips or whatever), and live in this fear that "ALL gubbermint is bad" and blah blah blah.

    They're highly trained and skilled at a very specific specialty. But generally have little to no capacity to learn outside of that specialty, because they generally weren't ever taught how to THINK like an academic.
    • They're highly trained and skilled at a very specific specialty. But generally have little to no capacity to learn outside of that specialty, because they generally weren't ever taught how to THINK like an academic.

      Stereotype much? I have met some really intelligent, well-spoken people in the trades. It is a matter of personal choice to engage in lifelong learning and exploration. I have my 4 year degree and have met many people that choose to stop learning after they get their bachelor's degrees. I have seen my fair share of conservative people with a B.S. that parrot back what the Republican party says without any critical thought given. You can't generalize. Someone that is highly trained and skilled, even in a ver

  • What I've seen a lot of in the Northeastern U.S. is that people get that skilled trades have shortages, and people aren't looking down on them as "lesser" jobs. But the younger generation is more likely than ever to have been raised on staying indoors most of the time, in climate controlled settings, doing things like playing video games when not in school itself.

    When you propose to them the idea of working in a field like construction, where you might be outdoors all day doing physical labor and dealing with bugs/insects, plus hot, cold or rainy conditions? They say, "Thanks, but no thanks." And plumbing? No matter how much it pays, there will always be a relative shortage of plumbers because it's literally a dirty job. You're going to get called to do a lot of the work that homeowners were too grossed out to attempt to do themselves, like crawling into a mucky, dark crawlspace under a house to fix a broken pipe in close quarters. Even replacing toilets is pretty disgusting, given the conditions a lot of bathrooms are kept in. There are some real health risks involved with all the sewage they come in contact with too.

    I've noticed that you're more likely to find available electricians, by contrast. Probably because they get to do a lot more work indoors and electrical wiring is a lot less gross/dirty than sewer lines or rotting wood with a hornet's nest by it.

    Some of these skilled labor jobs are honestly just ones I look at myself and say, "That guy earns EVERY PENNY of whatever he charges." The guy who did my roofing repairs recently was one of them. My roof has a steep slope that makes it dangerous to crawl around on it. I know some of the larger firms won't even touch it unless I pay thousands extra for them to put full scaffolding up first. But this guy just took his ladder and skillfully used it to move from level to level, crawling around like a spider monkey, and got everything caulked up, shingles replaced that were missing, etc. This was in the cold, and while it started to rain AND get dark. He just took out a flashlight and kept going.

  • by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @04:25PM (#56509315) Homepage
    A report from Washington State on wages is hardly something to apply nationally (disclaimer: I live there). Sure, entry level IT jobs start at$70-$80K, up through $150K for the right gigs - but you can't live within 2 hours of Seattle for less than a $700K house. Housing has increased 12.6% annually over the past 3 years pricing most potential home buyers out of the market. Factor in 43% tax increases during that same period is pushing fixed/low income people out of their homes.
    As far as using construction workers as a future job model - next recession, (and we're overdue by 2 years) construction workers will be sitting on their butts again for a couple years. That's a feast or famine job best avoided. Trades related to construction like HVAC and electrical wiring - things that need hands on and certifications - will always be a good bet.
    Nationally - there's a problem filling first law enforcement / fire fighter jobs. Kids can't pass background checks and don't have the mental toughness for the gigs. An average cop around here makes (c) $90K per year.
    It's also true that high schools are telling kids you have to get a degree to scrub toilets. That's silly, irritating, down right wrong, and demeaning of degree programs. Keep in mind who preaches it (teachers) and what their motivations might be. (I believe they're mostly under paid, but they chose the career)
  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @05:22PM (#56509703)
    At 41, I have aged out of Information Technology and I am finding my career at a cross-roads. I can go back and train for a new career as an Automotive Technician for about 10,500.00 at the local community college. If I study hard and earn a GPA above 3.5, I can even go to manufacturer-sponsored training which would give me a salary about as high as a senior systems administrator, my previous role. One of the teachers in the program said that the high-end dealerships like people in similar situations as me because we know how to talk to the customer on a professional and educated level. He said that oftentimes that people in my circumstances often start out at higher salaries. Part of me wishes I could remain in IT but I am not getting call backs on resumes that I put out and I am basically ignored for all but the craigslist jobs. The craigslist jobs pay less than average with larger amounts of workload.
    • Have you considered university I.T. jobs? Take a few classes at the local university as a master's/second-degree student, and you might well get connected with a job. Public university I.T. can pay surprisingly well. Especially if you get a job involving supporting specialized scientific equipment that's also networked and can be a jack of all trades.

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