by Tom Reilly, Principal & CEO, Renovations
It’s late summer and thoughts turn to harvesting the garden so carefully cultivated this summer and returning to school.
Returning to school: In K-12 that is an annual event met with excitement and trepidation. Some things never change. Going back to college, well that, is different.
Desiring an education can be relevant. For those of us wanting to be nurses, doctors, even architects, an education provides a solid foundation upon to build on after graduation. But what about other fields of endeavor?
Of course, there are more relevant careers than just the few I mentioned, then again there are hundreds of relevant careers that do not involve a four-year or higher degree. Yes, I am talking about the trades. Relevant vocational education and training is not only an option, it is a much-needed option.
I have heard statistics that the vocational trades will be shy of workers measured in the tens of millions in the United States alone. That is staggering. Our educational system, and more importantly our individual focus or direction, is perceived to be primarily on the college education “so we don’t have to work so hard.”
Well to my way of thinking, hard work not only has merit but great rewards. Working to create something that did not exist before you molded the raw materials with your mind and hands affords a feeling of accomplishment every single day.
I am not suggesting a college education is not a solid direction, rather just another direction. As a society we have revered the college educated over the craftsman. That can no longer happen. Both have relevance.
I like to use the story of two high school graduates. The first goes on to college and obtains a four-year degree. He or she also accrues about $80,000 in debt paying for the education. Depending on the relevance of the degree, he or she may get a job paying $35,000 to 45,000 per year. Barely enough to live on, let alone repay debt.
The second high school grad goes on to work in the trades. After four years, he or she will probably have acquired several achievements and be earning $65,000 to 75,000 per year without any college debt. Maybe just some calluses.
We all know who Mike Rowe is; Mr. Dirty Jobs himself. As I was browsing his website mikeroweworks.org, I came across Rowe’s quote that I found so very true and telling: “America is lending money it doesn’t have, to kids who can’t pay it back, to train them for jobs that no longer exist. That’s nuts!” Unfortunately, by and large, this is all too true.
So whether you are or know a student contemplating a career, realize there are wonderful opportunities to have a rewarding life and career that does not necessarily involve college.
Also, know people with these job skills are needed!