Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Grown-ups Looking for Trades

An IT professional with a master's degree in linguistics taking night classes to become a veterinary technician? It looks like more people are finding a quick trip to a new career in the skilled trades. And why not? Sometimes they're following their passions (maybe they love working with animals), and other times they're following the money. As older tradespeople retire, analysts predict that the demand for workers in the trades will be huge, driving up earnings.
"Driving this trend is the shift from a manufacturing economy to a service- and information-based one. In the next 10 years, 18 of the 20 fastest-growing job fields will require technical education or on-the-job training, from medical assistants to computer analysts, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics."
Now that grown-ups are starting to see the light, how long will it be before masses of kids coming out of high school realize that four years of university-level psychology prepares them to be very introspective bartenders? What if they knew that they could have taken a 10-month car-repair program and make $50,000 right out of school?


Anonymous said...

You make an interesting observation here. The same can be said of the current situation here in the UK. Of all my friends the ones most in demand and subsequently making the most money are those with a trade. My good friend is a carpenter by trade however due to the demand on building new housing this is what he does and makes more money than any of us graduates.

The UK government is committed to 50% of all young school leavers receiving a university education – my question is why? There is no shortage of graduates, a degree in fine arts is okay if you enjoy the subject and find it stimulating but the career prospects are nil. However leave school and train to become an electrician or plumber and you will never be short of work or money.

One problem we have in the UK is an element of snobbery – the trades were traditional seen for those who could not manage further education, school drop-outs etc. The smart ones always go to university! Well it is funny how things turn around as many of my university graduate friends make their way to their minimum wage jobs.

Jeremy said...

We have the same stigma attached to the trades in North America. Any path other than university is somehow seen as a low-status option to most.

I'm probably too dismissive about some of the downsides of physical work (most trades, some technical work). It's true that wages are rising, but that's simply because demand is high and supply is low. Supply is low because young people don't want to do these jobs. Perhaps no amount of career information or guidance will convince more kids to pursue those careers. In fact, I wonder whether we're seeing the effects of a generation that has received better career guidance and realize full well that they want cushy jobs in the arts, finance and engineering.