Trying to create New Opportunties for future younger workers
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    Trying to create New Opportunties for future younger workers

    Recently, the schools in our area, have been focusing on sending every kid to college, regardless of their interest. While I think college is certainly important, I don't think everyone is suited for college. I don't like the fact that they disparage those who aren't interested in college. I would have to say that I would consider the attitude of many in the schools towards those students who aren't interested in college as their primary future source of education as belittling and almost to the extent of bullying kids.

    My high school guidance counselor told me that "I had better learn a trade because I wasn't going to amount to anything in life". Now granted, this was in the late 1970's, but such "encouragement" only fueled the fires within me to succeed. Sadly, many don't respond this way and they succumb to what I call "Stinkin thinkin" and they believe that their futures are bleak, which couldn't be further from the truth.

    In the end, my high school had me as a guest speaker numerous times to their business classes and in other motivational forums. But the mere fact that a "counselor" would say such things to ANY student is simply unacceptable. Young people I have spoken with in the schools today have told me the comments made about the absolute necessity for everyone to attend college or you will be a "burnout loser" as one young woman was told.

    I and a couple of close friends who also own their own companies, have been harping on the local school districts to reinstate the instruction of welding classes, wood working and also metal shop. These were all classes when I went through the school (many moons ago, but it doesn't seem like as many years as it actually is).

    The school recently asked and received approval for a $100 MILLION dollar "renovation" program for the schools, which include the Senior High School (grades 9 -12) and Middle School (6,7 and 8th) and also 3 elementary schools. While the school board focused on "new learning environments" which include getting rid of desks and wasting money on expensive consultant recommended furniture, they also installed special custom "booths" in the lunch room which each booth has "charging pods" and electronic attachments for all of the kiddies gadgets.

    The most amazing thing for me is that my graduating class was the LARGEST ever to graduate from this school district. Today, the senior class is between 215 to 225 and my class had 365 kids in it. Yet the spending lavishly on ridiculously fancy and unnecessary luxury items within the school is very troublesome to me and many of my friends. A close friend of mine recently personally paid for an all "Astro Turf" sports field which was $1.6 Million dollars just for the field. The big bond project included about $10 million for "stadium improvements". Yet they can't (or perhaps WON'T) find money for welding and machine shop training equipment.

    We have been pushing for a program to teach the essential trades which will always be needed, regardless of how fancy technology gets. While you can turn your thermostat up and down with your "smart phone", you still need an HVAC system and someone will need to know how to repair and install them.

    While technology has done lot's of things, it hasn't replaced the need for plumbers, carpenters, welders, metal workers and etc., etc. Well, the school has allowed space for these programs, they have left it up to the public to raise the money for the equipment. So, my wife and I agreed to purchase one of the REALWELD Welding Training machines and donate it to the school. Two other friends of mine, one who owns over 100 rental properties and another friend who owns a successful Tool and Die shop are EACH also buying and donating a REALWELD machine to the local school for teaching welding.

    This is a great training aid and allows the kids to learn the fundamentals correctly and it helps them adjust their welding style and rid themselves of bad habits before they become ingrained. Here is a link to the website which describes this technology;

    RealWeld Systems | The latest innovation in welder training solutions.

    Just curious about your thoughts on this issue. The schools all want to send every kid to college and they aren't even offering the opportunity to teach what I feel are many of these essential careers. We have met with 4 different school boards in the area and appealed to them about this issue. Each of us who are involved in this initiative, all chose "non traditional" careers and have done extremely well. We want young people who are interested in learning a "Trade" to have that opportunity. I strongly feel that the future is going to be very bright for the younger people who enter into one of these essential trades and build their own businesses.

    Now, at least in my area, when you call for a "repair person", the person who shows up is almost ALWAYS older than 45 or 50 and to me, that signals a real opportunity for young people who want to work with their hands and build their own business.

    Recently, a project I am involved in needed commercial brick layers. Ultimately, we had to get the brick layers union to allow us to call retired brick layers back to work because we could NOT find ANYONE to lay bricks. We had guys in their late 70's laying bricks because NO ONE else would work. It's very sad. Of course we ended up with an outstanding end result and the project came in on time and budget. The guys who came out of retirement really enjoyed it and as always, did an outstanding job.

    But we desperately need young people to learn these trades. The brick laying would be best learned as working as an assistant with a master mason. In many cases, time is starting to run out as many of these highly skilled trades people are getting on in the years.

    I guess I am curious as to if you notice the same issues with trades in your areas. Also, any ideas or suggestions that you may have on how we can encourage the next generation to consider these careers is also appreciated. Thanks for your responses.

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    I think a lot of this has to do with the conception that the trades in our country are gone - as in manufacturing etc. being sent overseas. I guess they figure that for any young people to succeed in their upcoming world they will have to have that college education.

    But what will that education get them? A spot in a cubicle among 1000 other college graduates?

    I'm really out of tune with all of this - I still have a hard time grasping the fact that schools don't use books anymore using electronic devices instead. In my opinion that fact alone could be big trouble some day.

    When I was in high school in the early 70's the shop classes were alive and well - to the point in your junior and senior year you could spend 2-3 sessions a day in your chosen shop. This was before the Vo-Tech system got going which also added to that.

    Of course the shop that I was in and really excelled at was Graphic Arts which is all but antiquated now - everything we did from darkroom work to typesetting to printing is now all now with an electronic device also.

    But I agree with you about the other trade shops - who is going to maintain all this mechanical equipment that everyone's lives depend on these days. Heavy forbid - as in your example - if a home or workplace HVAC system goes down - it's like the end of the world for people these days and nobody will know how to fix it.
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    A lot of kids don't know what they want to do getting out of high school. They look at some of these jobs like they are not going to make any money at them and assume that by simply having a college degree they will make all kinds of money. For me I went into the Military until I figured out what I wanted to do. Then was in the National Guard while attending a Trade School and graduated with an Associates Degree. I had virtually no student loans because of GI Bill and now make 6 figures. This isn't going to be the case in every field but there are lots of people out there with BS and Masters that are flipping burgers because it is the only work they can find.


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    Great post, the only thing I can add is that no one in this equation seems to be considering the cost of or the burden of repaying that "absolutely necessary " college education that might get you hired at a $40k a year job once your done along with all the other grads.....

    Going into a trade is typically far, far less expensive an education that almost assuredly grants a faster route to gainful employment at a rate that is higher than most new grads could hope for, and they have $100K in student loans to repay!

    Now granted, if the law of averages plays its cards, the college educated person over their lifetime should gross more than the tradesmen will, but that's only if the tradesmen never advances to a higher level, be it either design and estimating, management, or hanging their own shingle and owning the business that they have the knowledge, training and experience to have done for years.

    The world desperately needs BOTH, do-ers and thinkers. Pushing our children only toward one side of that equation will certainly end poorly for our society and only cost us more in the long run...
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    While applaud and agree with your end-goal, I think you are spinning your wheels.

    Like it or not a college degree *IS* becoming the entry level job qualification standard. High schools teaching trades isn't going to change that because the college degree is quickly becoming a requirement to get hired in many of the trades too.

    The high school diploma just isn't what it used to be. I had this discussion just a few days ago with a friend that recently took on a job as an adjunct professor at a local 4-year college. She teaches "Remedial Algebra". All of her students are people that have high school diplomas but can't perform basic math well enough to take ANY of the college level math courses. They have to pass this course as a prerequisite for any other college math course.
    Her class is actually using textbooks that were intended for HIGH SCHOOL Freshman level courses.

    Two weeks into this semester she gave a test. Every single student in her class failed.

    This isn't the late 70s any more. I went to high school in the late 70s and every single one of us had to take and pass Algebra, Geometry, Trig and Calculus. If you didn't pass you didn't graduate. There was no discussion. And, btw, I went to a State-run VoTech high school. Every person graduating from that school learned a trade. When I graduated maybe 5% of my class went on to college. Now they send better than 40%.

    Locally, we also have the issue that there ARE State run VoTech high schools and they are putting out more graduates than there are positions to fill. If an employer is looking at 2 apprentice candidates and one spent a full 2-years out of their 4-years in high school learning the trade and the other spent a grand total of a month, which one gets hired?

    I don't have any answers here. I still can't figure out how so many high school graduates can't even perform basic math functions or write without major spelling and grammar errors. And while I absolutely LOVE the idea of letting kids in high school get a taste of the building trades to see if they actually do have an interest in them, I don't think re-introducing "Shop" into your typical high school gets anyone anywhere in the long run. If anything, I think if kids have or express that interest, they should be steered toward the VoTech schools that do exist.
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    I'm 28 and 12 years ago when I was in high school, I was told by MANY teachers that I should go into something in the "tech" industry. I was told that "tool and die" is a "dead trade" and I "will never find a good job."

    Well, I liked working with my hands and figured that if I could chisel out a menial living at $35k-$40k per year, I would be happy. Yeah, I would not have all the cool toys, but I would survive and live a good life. So I took auto shop and machine shop my in my Junior year in High school. I had all my prerequisites done my Freshman and Sophomore year. I quickly figured out that auto shop wasn't for me, I knew I didn't want to work on hot or very cold vehicles all the time and be banging my knuckles. Summer of my Junior year I got a job in a shop as a shop mule (or a more colorful term used in shops). Took machine shop again my Senior year and left school at 10:30am to go to work EVERY day for co-op program til 4:30pm. Worked at that same shop for 9 years, got my Journeymans card, got a 2 year associate degree and became a very proficient welder on top of it.

    Left there for a $10/hour raise (who wouldn't?) Worked at the new shop (Faurecia) for two years and now I work for Jeep. Hired in to Jeep as a tool and die maker and within 8 months I was hired into the Union Engineering Dept since I had a Journeyman card and a 2 year degree.

    All that goes to say that college isn't for everyone but I still think people should get some sort of post high school education. I wouldn't be where I am today if I ONLY had a Journeyman card, I was told by Faurecia hiring, Jeep hiring and Jeep Union Engineering hiring that having the 2 year associate degree set me apart from the other candidates.

    Plus, earning the 2 year associate degree wasn't difficult. I was already taking 70% of the classes necessary while earning my Journeyman card, so I took some extra classes. I worked 40-45 hours per week and took 19 credit hours of college. My day started at 4:45am and ended at 10:30pm when I returned from college... Yeah it sucked at the time but it was all worth it.
    Last edited by JDSwan87; 02-22-2016 at 07:03 PM.
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    The local news clarified the educational system (at least locally)

    The local community colleges are teaching what used to be taught in high school.
    If students sign up for classes that used to be offered as standard classes,,
    they receive an Associates Degree when they graduate from high school.

    This also states that the university system is dummied down,,,
    Thos students can get many Bachelors degrees within 2 years of high school graduation.

    So,, basically,,, what I get from this is that employers are getting Associates Degree level candidates that now present a Bachelors Degree education.

    I went through an engineering program in the 1970's.
    Compared to today,,, the present students are receiving 4 years of babysitting service for their

    If I were hiring today,,, the candidate would have a minimum of a Masters Degree,,,,
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    Agreed

    I agree on the need for more options for young people. Many kids simply can't or won't do actual college level material. That's not because they are stupid or lazy but their heart just isn't there and four years of anything you hate is a long drudge.

    Other kids simply are hands on learners and would be excellent at many of the trades if they had a good start. They would also make a good living, very good in some cases because while many college jobs can be off shored, bricks must be layed, wires run, connections made and welds done on site.

    While I have a degree, two of the best classes I took were essentially shop classes. In high school we did woodworking, some welding, small engine basics and some electrical work. I managed to find a similar college level course designed for Vocational Educational instructors and snuck that into my coursework. I've used those more than my calculus, political theory or philosophy courses. I stand in awe of some of the work that others on GTT do and hope we can teach more kids to follow in their footsteps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDSwan87 View Post
    I'm 28 and 12 years ago when I was in high school, I was told by MANY teachers that I should go into something in the "tech" industry. I was told that "tool and die" is a "dead trade" and I "will never find a good job."

    Well, I liked working with my hands and figured that if I could chisel out a menial living at $35k-$40k per year, I would be happy. Yeah, I would not have all the cool toys, but I would survive and live a good life. So I took auto shop and machine shop my in my Junior year in High school. I had all my prerequisites done my Freshman and Sophomore year. I quickly figured out that auto shop wasn't for me, I knew I didn't want to work on hot or very cold vehicles all the time and be banging my knuckles. Summer of my Junior year I got a job in a shop as a shop mule (or a more colorful term used in shops). Took machine shop again my Senior year and left school at 10:30am to go to work EVERY day for co-op program til 4:30pm. Worked at that same shop for 9 years, got my Journeymans card, got a 2 year associate degree and became a very proficient welder on top of it.

    Left there for a $10/hour raise (who wouldn't?) Worked at the new shop (Faurecia) for two years and now I work for Jeep. Hired in to Jeep as a tool and die maker and within 8 months I was hired into the Union Engineering Dept since I had a Journeyman card and a 2 year degree.

    All that goes to say that college isn't for everyone but I still think people should get some sort of post high school education. I wouldn't be where I am today if I ONLY had a Journeyman card, I was told by Faurecia hiring, Jeep hiring and Jeep Union Engineering hiring that having the 2 year associate degree set me apart from the other candidates.

    Plus, earning the 2 year associate degree wasn't difficult. I was already taking 70% of the classes necessary while earning my Journeyman card, so I took some extra classes. I worked 40-45 hours per week and took 19 credit hours of college. My day started at 4:45am and ended at 10:30pm when I returned from college... Yeah it sucked at the time but it was all worth it.
    Thanks for your post. Education is a life long experience. I earned my first masters degree in my mid 30's while working at running two different companies that I owned. It required me to travel to the Philadelphia, Pa area for various residency stays of about 10 days at a time, every couple of months, over three years, but nothing worthwhile is easy. I later added another degree while still running a company which I have had now for 30 years.

    I would ALWAYS encourage people to continue learning, right up until your last breath. With technology, you can learn wherever you want, which was NOT the case when I obtained my degrees. The moment you stop learning, you fall behind in life. I am just frustrated with all of the emphasis which people place on obtaining degrees which frankly do nothing for many people. When I add people at my company, I am interested in their education, BUT, I test their actual skills and their common sense, along with asking them a whole series of questions which indicate to me whether they are really interested in a career or simply a job. I don't hire people who only want a job. I invest my time and money into people who want a career, even if it turns out not to be with my company forever.

    I even signed up for various professional writing programs a few years ago, even though It isn't necessarily within the scope of my daily duties with my company. But I always wanted to write a book and now I am. We must continue to grow or soon we will find ourselves where we don't want to be.

    Recently, I read a very interesting article written by a college professor about how unprepared for college most young people are. The interesting point he made in his article is that he was adamantly opposed to home schooling, but over time, he realized that many of his very best students in college were actually home schooled and he went into great detail about how the prepared students actually improved both his teaching and the results of most students in his classroom. He summed up the public school students of today as "grossly unprepared" for the next learning stage. But the difficult issue is why is this occurring with record amounts of money being spent on public school educations. I have opinions on this issue but will refrain here as to not get this thread going down that specific road.

    Thanks again for your comment and taking the time to share your story with us...........
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    Quote Originally Posted by CADplans View Post
    If I were hiring today,,, the candidate would have a minimum of a Masters Degree,,,,
    THAT is a part of this whole issue. Employer's used to screen for whether or not someone had a high school diploma. Once everyone had a diploma, they raised the stakes and started setting requirements for people to have a 4-year degree to flip burgers. The more people that get degrees, the higher the "requirements" will go. But nobody is actually getting any smarter and the only people that benefit from it are the colleges.
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