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Is there really a stigma against blue collar jobs in Minnesota? It’s complicated.

plumbing tools
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Students are often attracted to jobs in construction, manufacturing and other trades by the positives such as high salaries, the prospect of lower debt and the promise of working with their hands.

If one thing united Democrat Tim Walz and Republican Jeff Johnson in their campaigns for Minnesota governor, it was a belief in the value of jobs in skilled trades — plumbing, electrical work, carpentry and the like — and that those careers currently get a bad rap.

At a September debate in Wayzata about the state’s shortage of workers — a problem expected to get rapidly worse in coming years as baby boomers retire — both candidates praised students who attend two-year or technical education programs. They also hoped that a cultural shift would erase a stigma they believe is attached to blue-collar careers.

Walz, who was elected last week, even said if his young son Gus decided to be an electrician, it would be the “happiest day of my life” because, as Walz put it: “I know there’s employability, I know there’s a skill set, I’ll know it’s where his intelligence lies and the genius of the nobleness of trades.”

Johnson decried what he said was a belief, particularly in the Twin Cities, “that if a kid doesn’t get a four-year degree, he or she is just not that successful.”

For those on the front lines of job placement in Minnesota, however, the conversation around the notion of a stigma is complex. Many say one does exist, but is not as strong as it once was. And though there is a debate over how much hiring strategies and school guidance practices contribute to a stigma and exacerbate the recruiting crunch in trade industries, some see any perceived bias as a distraction from a far bigger problem: math — the fact that retirees across the economy are being replaced by a far smaller workforce.

Awareness issues

A 2018 survey of Minnesota construction companies by Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors of America found just how dire the hiring situation can get in at least some trades. More than 70 percent of the firms surveyed were having a hard time filling open hourly positions.

Bob Kill, president of Enterprise Minnesota, a consulting organization for manufacturers said a stigma against jobs in his industry is a challenge. “But I’d say as an industry we’re further along than a lot of the elected officials really fully appreciate, because they’re not looking at it in the depth that we are,” he said.

There’s no denying that many involved in career development, especially in trades industries, widely believe there is some truth to the notion of a stigma against the trades.

Kathy Kittel, the career and technical education (CTE) supervisor at St. Paul Public Schools, said her husband nudged their children from a young age to attend four-year colleges ― even decorating their rooms with Wisconsin Badgers wallpaper. He had jumped straight from high school to a “really valuable job with high benefits and security” at the post office, but later regretted not attending a four-year school, Kittel said.

“I think that probably happens for other students, their parents had a particular experience and now they want better for their students,” she told MinnPost.

But many involved in educating or recruiting potential employees for CTE, including Kittel, see those attitudes fading with time, and not widespread in schools or society. In short: Students are, in fact, often attracted to jobs in construction, manufacturing and other trades by the positives such as high salaries, the prospect of lower debt and the promise of working with their hands; they just need to be more aware of what career paths exist and get better connected to them.

Kittel said one cause is that over the years, secondary schools made a shift toward strict traditional academics and preparing children for typical college paths. CTE programming and advocacy is still catching up.

“From my perspective, I think we need to do a better job promoting what’s being done in CTE right now,” Kittel said. “I think that we’ve been taking a backseat to the marketing that’s done for four year colleges.”

There is some evidence to back up the idea that lack of awareness is a significant issue. The top two recommendations of a 2014 state task force report on career and technical education focused on counselors and employers in the trades doing better to connect with students about careers.

Others have made similar findings around the country.

A 2016 study by Mississippi State University found that while state residents “recognized the potential value” of career and technical education, nearly half of 403 adults surveyed couldn’t name a CTE program offered by a local school. Most had an incomplete knowledge about the range of careers that can be attained through CTE programs. (The survey also found some negative perceptions about CTE, such as that it’s essentially best for students who are poor, not able to get into college, or are otherwise disadvantaged.)

A 2017 report by Washington state’s auditor about their CTE system noted one huge barrier to filling empty jobs in trades was that “many students and their parents are unaware of the options available to them.”

Recognizing this, some have worked to shepherd more students into skilled trades.

Kill said some communities recognizing the high wages of manufacturing jobs have begun to make larger efforts to promote those careers. Several high schools, including White Bear Lake, have recently worked to implement new advanced manufacturing programs, which Kill said would likely not have been pursued in the past.

Brian Farmer, apprenticeship coordinator for local cement mason and plasterers unions, said “school after school” has asked him to come speak to students lately. He said at job fairs, he’s more often competing directly with universities for students. Farmer said he also has record numbers of people in his programs amid a construction boom in the Twin Cities.

“They’re starting to realize this is not an alternative to college; this is a viable career option,” he said of school counselors and students. “They can’t believe what we make. They can’t believe the benefits involved in a union format.”

Darren Ginther, assistant director of St. Paul Public School’s Office of College and Career Readiness, said the district has worked to implement curriculum for school counselors that is focused on preparing students for a range of post-high school options. Kittel said SPPS has beefed up their coordination with businesses, including a “Construct Tomorrow” events that feature hands-on job fair with trades representatives.

Marguerite Ohrtman, president elect of the Minnesota School Counselors Association, said course loads and requirements are still set up to keep children on track to get into four-year schools so students are not behind if they have any desire to attend one. But she also said counselors of today understand the value of jobs in the trades and work to include them in talks with students.

“Our ultimate goal is for students to be happy, healthy and have a plan for when they graduate whether that’s a four-year school a two-year school, cosmetology school a trade school ― whatever it may be,” Ohrtman said.

Industry’s role in hiring

Kittel, Farmer and others acknowledged there is more to be done in schools, but also more to be done by the trade industries themselves to attract workers and make them aware of how to get open jobs.

Donna Kusske, director of the Building Minnesota Apprenticeship Program, said she thinks some trades businesses have struggled to hire because of a history of using family connections for recruiting, a process that has systematically sidelined women and racial minorities who are interested in trades work. That practice is increasingly unworkable as the workforce shrinks and Minnesota’s population becomes more diverse, she said. Her organization focuses on boosting diversity in the trades.

Minnesota’s 2016 survey of workforce diversity found just 8 percent of construction workers were people of color — which ranked as the lowest in the state. “Traditionally a lot of the people involved in those careers had an uncle or a dad or someone they knew that worked as a plumber or an electrician, so they were aware of it,” Kusske said. “But a lot of the groups that we talked about ― women and minorities ― haven’t been represented.”

The report also found construction as one of the top industries actively working to increase its racial diversity, and some inroads have been reported. Tawanna Black, CEO and founder of the Center for Economic Inclusion, said that sustained effort on such recruiting can be followed by success: “Where you see employers being more inclusive and engaging to particular audiences, you’re going to see growth and when you don’t you don’t see growth.”

Of course, not every job served by career and technical education is the same. Nearly 20 percent of Minnesota’s manufacturing workforce identifies as nonwhite, which ranks near the top of the state, according to the report from the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Still, Steve Kalina, executive director of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association, said his industry needs to work to attract employees, too.

At a recent event with school officials, industry leaders and state lawmakers at Anoka Technical College, Kalina said schools need to give manufacturers frank feedback when their shop is not attracting talent because they’re not a desirable place to work.

In other words, at least some of a perceived stigma may in some cases be earned. “As much as we say this isn’t the manufacturing of our grandfathers and the dark dingy greasy workplaces, a lot of them still are,” he said. “Way too many of them still are.”

Anoka Technical College's Machine Trades lab
MinnPost photo by Walker Orenstein
Students at Anoka Technical College's Machine Trades lab last Thursday. The college was hosting a tour for state lawmakers and industry leaders.
He wondered aloud why a student would go work at a subpar manufacturing company when they could work in a “pristine and clean” hospital or an office “where everything is ergonomically correct,” Kalina said.

In a follow-up interview, Kalina said he’s experimenting with new ways to make his business friendlier to young people, including by enhancing the role of machinists to give people in that job some engineering duties. Engineering is popular among students and an enhanced machinist job title comes with higher pay, Kalina said.

A numbers game

Kill, for one, maintains concern of a stigma against jobs in manufacturing and the trades is misplaced. Instead, it’s simply the number of people in the workforce that represents a more dire threat to manufacturers, he said. Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development data shows nearly 150,000 job vacancies in the state during the second fiscal quarter of 2018, compared to fewer than 100,000 people who are unemployed.

Kill noted in that environment, even nursing, often ranked as the country’s most trusted profession, has some hiring difficulties. “We still have challenges in front of us because of the overall shrinking workforce,” he said. “But we’re seeing communities band together in a way we hadn’t seen certainly 10 years ago and maybe even five years ago.”

That dedication represents a changing attitudes toward trades, he said. “Making something is cool again,” Kill said.

Comments (27)

  1. Submitted by Bob Barnes on 11/13/2018 - 11:47 am.

    Most 4 year degrees are worthless. We are finally seeing companies simply ignoring college degrees because they know a paper means nothing. Only the STEM degrees are worth getting really. The debt load puts most too far behind the curve. A trade will cost a lot less and pay well. High schools should be offering a full year of Trades to those who want it so when they graduate they can go right into working as an apprentice without any debts incurred.

    • Submitted by Gregg Adler on 11/14/2018 - 07:41 pm.

      Average college graduate debt in the U.S. is $35,000 (not dischargeable by bankruptcy). Average 4-year grad starting salary is around $40K. About the only jobs right out of a 4-year college that pay north of $60k are engineering careers; electrical, commuter, mechanical and chemical and B.S. degreed Registered Nurses.

      Historically, the past five years in St. Paul, only 37% of our students have ACT or Accuplacer scores high enough to qualify to be admitted to college. Nationwide, only 59% of students who start college graduate in 5 years. Doing the math (.37 * .59) means only about 22% of our students have a shot at earning a 4-year degree; and it’s not much better in the suburbs. With all the barriers to success such as: poverty, broken families, drugs and alcohol, mental health issues and our high number of English Language Learners; simple arithmetic tells you the best post-secondary option for 78% of our SPPS students are 2-year technical colleges, certification programs and skilled trades union apprenticeships.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/15/2018 - 10:03 pm.

        You understand the folly of this approach I hope. What do you suppose happens when the temporary labor shortage in the fields you cite is alleviated by the glut of new workers you’ve sheparded into a few select areas? How’s about instead of forcing kids into career paths for which they have no aptitude, and little interest, we let THEM decide how they’d like to order their lives. Short term problems have a way of working themselves out, without the need for heavy handed demagoguery from those who aren’t even a party to the discussion.

    • Submitted by Carl Spackler on 11/15/2018 - 10:02 am.

      Agreed. I have a useless 4 yr degree and it has not given me an edge whatsoever in the workforce. I bought into the notion that if I had a 4 yr degree it would give me a higher paying job, but the only thing it did was saddle me with debt. I check job sites everyday and guess what? The majority of high paying jobs that I come across are blue collar Union jobs, some of which don’t require a degree whatsoever. When my son is old enough I will steer him into the trades because right now 4 yr degrees aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, unless of course you’re going to become an engineer or doctor.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/15/2018 - 10:05 pm.

        And mine continues to pay me dividends year after year. It’s almost like a one-size fits all policy doesn’t really work when applied to tens of millions of people, huh?

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/16/2018 - 10:43 am.

          It sounds like your degree is something you find to be of value, yet that can’t be monetized.

          Where the heck do you get off thinking like that?

  2. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 11/13/2018 - 12:27 pm.

    The problem isn’t a stigma against blue collar jobs. The problem is that we have eliminated shop classes from most of our junior and senior high schools.

    We need to get shop and home ec back on n the curriculum. When you get out of high school everyone (both girls and boys) should be able to replace a light switch as well as cook a decent dinner.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/13/2018 - 03:16 pm.

      Back in my day, shop was required (for boys only, of course). As vocational training went, it was pretty useless. I learned some basic carpentry and electrical skills, but nothing that would translate into a career path. As far as drafting and printing (the other two required units) went, that was truly a waste of everyone’s time. I doubt I have been called upon to use a t-square more than three times since then. I have never been called upon to set type by hand (although the associated mnemonics are great for trivia competitions).

      The optional shop classes were, I think, much better for career training (auto sop, welding, surveying, etc.). Minneapolis also had a Vocational High School that was very well-regarded..

      • Submitted by joe smith on 11/14/2018 - 06:13 am.

        Couldn’t disagree more. Shop classes allowed young students to work with their hands, understand fractions for cutting, problem solving putting together projects and most importantly led to taking welding/electrical classes in High School. When the elites decided working with your hands was demeaning and everyone should go to college our shop/trades classes disappeared.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/14/2018 - 09:06 am.

          You misunderstand me. Of the four semesters of shop we were required to take, two were a waste of time and two were worthwhile. The semester learning to hand-set type would have been better spent learning how to cook and/or sew.

          Schools now make shop optional, in my experience. I see no reason to force kids who have no interest in, say, drafting to learn how to use a t-square.

      • Submitted by Gregg Adler on 11/14/2018 - 07:11 pm.

        I took those same courses in junior high at Sanford Junior High. The printing industry is a shadow of what it use to be and almost completely digital. But the hand skills and attention to detail were important skill to teach 13 year-olds. Drafting principles I still use in designing garages, additions, kitchen remodels and other personal home improvement projects. Again, hand skills, drawing, proportion, scale, perspective and 3-D diagrams all important developmental brain skills for young people.

        The goal of CTE courses is to introduce fundamentals, do some career exploration, apply science, math and communications skills and develop hand-eye coordination. We need to light the fire. Without these exploratory courses, kids will not consider the skilled trades. You have to walk before you can run. High School programs build on junior high experience.

        The problem is, almost all the middle school ‘shop” courses have been eliminated because of cost. HS programs only survive because of Federal Perkins funding (middle schools do not qualify) because they are so expensive to run. Materials, tools, supplies etc. All an English class needs is books, paper, pencil and an English major. Cheap and easy but no skill development that leads to real work.

        Unfortunately, many districts take the Perkins money generated by CTE teachers and put it in the general fund to feed the district pet pig i.e. administrator favorite project other than the CTE courses it is intended for. Congress, Dept of Ed, and GAO need to audit school districts to make sure the money goes where it is suppose to go.

  3. Submitted by Kurt Anderson on 11/13/2018 - 12:37 pm.

    I am curious as to why the many news stories (from many media sources) on this subject do not quote or cite the views of the MN AFL-CIO Building Trades Council. Union-employer joint apprenticeship committees (JACs) are the standard that I recall; my father, a union sheet metal worker who served over 20 years as a full-time JAC coordinator, worked well with reps from both sides. There was a high demand for those jobs, at the time.

    Of course, if you are an 8am-430pm hourly wage earner, you are not going to participate in the often very substantive daytime conferences and meetings that tend to set our policy direction in so many different areas.

  4. Submitted by Bob Barnes on 11/13/2018 - 02:20 pm.

    That doesn’t sound right. You need a total of 4 years working in the field before you can take your Journeyman’s test. (3 years if you go to a 2year tech school). The tools are a one time buy and you don’t necessarily need every tool the schools claim you do. The truck part is wrong too. Apprentices have to be overseen by a licensed electrician. So they aren’t legally allowed to travel off somewhere to work alone.

    3 to 4 years as an apprentice and you’ll easily have enough to buy your own truck outright if you’re smart with your money. Plus you likely won’t have 10s of thousands in student loan debt to repay either.

  5. Submitted by Patrick Hickey on 11/13/2018 - 02:42 pm.

    5 year apprenticeship yes, a grand on tools maybe, pass a test after 5 years to get your license yes, bonded no, finance 30,000$ truck no, be willing to drive to the jobsite yes, 24$ an hour not sure, hopefully belongs to an electrical union and also receives funding for retirement, vacation time, health insurance and other benefits.

  6. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/13/2018 - 03:14 pm.

    You’re conflating being an electrician with being an electrical contractor. There is no way you can get an electrical contractor to send an electrician to your home or business for $24/hour, even in Marshall or Mankato.

    Electricians do not supply their own service trucks.

    You do hit on something though. Because wages in the southwest are so low relative to the Metro, they have a hard time keeping tradesmen and women there. It’s often presented as a shortage of workers, when it’s a shortage of wage income.

    The web site for MN DOLI reports that the prevailing wage for electricians in Blue Earth County is a wage and benefit package of $57.77/hour, with $38.72 on the check.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/14/2018 - 10:19 am.

      Yes, wages in the Metro are higher for every occupation. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything discussed here.

      In the past, most people coming into the trades had a dad, uncle, or neighbor who told them how to get into the field. They way the trades are reaching out today, that is no longer true. Part of that is necessitated by a desire and need for more minority and female participation.

      I handed a retired Hispanic man a brochure for apprenticeships. When he told me he was too old for that, I said, “Yeah, but you know a nephew, a grand daughter, a neighbor who needs to see this.” The light bulb went on.

      A four year degree takes four years, or more. Yup, it takes a while to be a journeyman plumber. Kind of like it takes a while to become a CPA. Some trades don’t even require a vo-tech day school program. Financially, the bar is often much lower than a 4 year degree. Good things usually require some time, commitment, and patience.

    • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 11/14/2018 - 12:59 pm.

      You have to account for cost of living. $20 an hour in outstate MN goes a lot further than it does in the Metro. Electrical waves are generally set based on the Union wages.

    • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 11/14/2018 - 01:04 pm.

      I completey disagree. A kid fresh out of high school can walk on a job site and start learning on the job as long as they work hard and show up on time. By 22 you could take your Journeyman’s test and be a licensed electrician already. That’s nowhere near the investment you’d have going to a 4 year college piling up a mountain of debt. That 22 year old would be making 50k a year or more without including overtime while many college grads won’t come close to that after getting out.

  7. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/14/2018 - 07:43 am.

    There is an elephant in the room as far as the many articles about attracting young people to the trades, or at least the building trades. And it is directly related to the Wisconsin tradesmen and women that are seeking higher wage work in Rochester as wages for the trades in the Badger State are failing to keep up. By following the path of states that have repealed prevailing wage laws, MN will have a harder time filling building trades jobs.

    One thing we know that will make it more difficult to attract people to any occupation is to lower the compensation, and that is exactly what has been done in many states. One means of doing this is the expanded adoption of right to work for less legislation. The other, which is more under the radar, is the often times twin attack of the repeal of prevailing wage laws, referred to as common wage laws in some states. Everyone understands how the first works, the second is not widely known or understood.

    A prevailing wage law is an economic development tool. It puts a floor under wages, so that rather than out of town contractors submitting low ball bids and public construction dollars going out of state while local wage rates are driven down, those dollars are earned by local contractors and their employees, re-circulating that money in the local economy.

    The first prevailing wage law was adopted by the Republican government of Kansas in the late 1800’s. The was a lot of public construction in Kansas at the time, courthouses, schools, etc, and local contractors were being undercut by Texas contractors doing shoddy work. The new law mandated public agencies to accept the lowest bid, but also mandated the payment of the most common or prevailing wage for each trade. Local economies were improved, as was the quality of the construction, a win-win for tax payers.

    Every construction job has minimum specifications for everything from the paint to the flooring to the sheet rock screws used. Prevailing wage is a minimum spec for the quality of the labor used. Econ 101 tells us that a carpenter that can command a wage of $40/hour is better and far more productive and can hang doors more quickly than the carpenter that can only command a wage of $25/hour. When we build a school or a county courthouse, we plan on using those facilities for 60 or 80 years; not the short term time horizon of a developer throwing up an office/warehouse building in a suburban office park. If the law rightly requires acceptance of the lowest bid, that must be married to solid minimum specs for the materials and the labor need to professionally assemble those materials.

    In the mid 1980’s, Kansas repealed it’s prevailing wage law. Proponents said that the cost of school construction would fall. Costs did fall, by a whopping 2%. Wow! Wage income fell by 10%, for both public and private construction. Fringe benefit contributions fell even more. As skilled workers left the industry in search of better wages, untrained people filled the void. Accident rates soared. Union-contractor apprenticeship programs fell by 38%, minority apprenticeships fell by 54%.

    Here in MN, prevailing wage supports trades jobs that are careers. After repeal in Kansas, the trades began populated by people who were just pasting through, holding a job “in construction” for a while before moving on. That is what is beginning to happen in Wisconsin. We don’t need that here.

    • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 11/14/2018 - 03:07 pm.

      I would have to disagree here. First off, laws requiring you take the lowest bid shouldn’t exist. Of course you’ll shoddy work doing that. The bids should be considered based on the company’s reputation and the amount of the bid. (Unfortunately, govt is usually too corrupt so that contracts are awarded based on kickbacks or nepotism or something of that nature. ).

      The free market would easily replace prevailing wage laws as well. Price controls never work because they skew the markets (usually driving the smaller businesses out of business). The free market would also weed out the shoddy companies as they’d get less work than those with a good reputation and competitive bid.

      Unions had their time. That time is now passed. With the 24/7 media and instant communication we have today they are no longer needed. They just drive end user costs up and quality down and they also encourage mediocrity on the job. See GM being unable to pay their pension costs and the workers out drinking booze or worse on lunch breaks for a prime example.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/14/2018 - 07:40 pm.

        The real world experience of other states shows you are wrong. In states that have eliminated prevailing wage law, it’s been lose-lose-lose. Wages have gone down, quality and safety have plummeted, and cost stayed the same.

        Theory is fun to think about and bat around, I guess. But I prefer to live in the real world.

        And given the way conservatives have lamented wage stagnation, which goes back decades even though some only discovered it during the Obama Administration, it’s just laughable to say unions have had their day. To lament stagnant wages while denying working people the most effective tool to improve their standard of living is foolish.

      • Submitted by ian wade on 11/14/2018 - 10:57 pm.

        You desperately need some new material. Repubs have been retching up these same tired myths for decades and have been proven wrong every single time.

  8. Submitted by Gregg Adler on 11/14/2018 - 07:19 pm.

    St. Paul public school Journeyman Electricians make $45 and hour plus a benefit package (pension, sick time, health insurance) worth about $20 and hour putting their package at $65/hr. At 2080 hours in a full time work year that’s $135,200. Far more than the teachers in the classroom.

    You can go to any public entity and view their contracts. The average annual wage for SPPS skilled trades people (unweighted for apprentices and numbers of employees) is about $66,000 per year. I know because I did the research for a PP presentation I use on the skilled trades for my students and anyone else who will listen.

    If you’re starting a business or you are an employee you can buy a decent truck for way less than $20K. The tools are an investment, mileage is tax deductable. Traded labor which many people don’t talk about (electrician work for carpentry work) is essentially tax free income on the weekends working on each others projects with your buddies in the trades.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/16/2018 - 09:34 am.

      The wage and benefit package is only paid for about 1,800 hours a year, not 2,080.

      In the building trades, vacation and holiday pay is sent my the employer to a trust fund. So on a week where a holiday falls, the employer would only pay the employee for 32 hours.

      Similarly, when an employee takes a week of vacation time, the employer does not pay the employee anything. The employee draws the vacation pay from the trust fund.

      A percentage of each pay period’s wages are deducted and sent to the trust fund. I’m not aware of any other industry that operates this way, and it’s difficult for outsiders to grasp. Using this system means that, at the end of the fiscal year, two employees working 1,805 hours will have earned the same wage, and fringe benefit contributions will be the same, even if one plumber worked for one employer all year and the other worked for 3 different employers. It also means that an employer can hire an employee three days before July 4 and not get dinged for 8 hours of holiday pay.

      Also, and this is an important point, there is NO sick time in the building trades. There never has been. No show, no pay. I doubt there ever will be sick time.

  9. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/19/2018 - 09:05 am.

    With our technical colleges now a part of our state college system a “trade” and a 4 year degree should be emphasized. I help with an advisory board at a tech college and this seems to just be starting: blending transfer credit offerings. In reality, it should not be 2 years here and 2 years there, but rather an integrated 4 year experience.

    There is likely no better means to a successful small business start up than basing it on a “trade” skill: plumber, electrician, machinist. Emphasizing entrepreneurial tracks that add in basic business start up skills like accounting, marketing, sales and our grads are well suited for success in life: an employable skill, a BS/BA degree, some practical internship / apprenticeship experiences along the way.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/19/2018 - 10:00 am.

      I know a number of graduates of my relentlessly “impractical” 4-year liberal arts college who went on to get vocational training at a local 2-year college. The course was much shorter for them because credits transferred, so they cold spend just 2 or 3 semesters taking the job-oriented courses.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/19/2018 - 03:05 pm.

        I’m one of the folks that did lots of technical skill training high school shop, Navy electrical, etc, etc, and at the ripe old age of 32 got a BS. Ended my career in high Tech. Global Marketing and Sales. Moral of the story, you can start out almost anywhere, and try many different avenues and end up some place totally different, career path or life path? No, I don’t think “elites” make those decisions for us, we make our own, some folks just chose not to hold themselves responsible for their decisions. On a final point, I don’t think any education is worthless! I find one of the most valuable classes I took Philosophy, opened your mind up to question the truth, but like many things,you should use the tools in your tool box to help you navigate life, and there isn’t anyone stopping you from getting more tools! .

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