Who is responsible for the lack of good workers?

It’s parents. First and foremost I blame parents. Parents are the number one reason you can’t find good workers because parents want their kids reach higher than they did. Thus, if Mom or Dad worked in a blue collar profession, they want their kids to look down on that work. It’s subtle. Most parents don’t come out and say “what I do is bad”, it’s more “I want you to be better than me”, by doing this, you’re telling your kids, what I do isn’t worthwhile.

It’s teachers.  It’s our job to prepare you for college! No, it’s not, it’s your job to help prepare them for life after high school. That doesn’t have to be college. When did we turn public education into college preparatory and not life preparatory? Public Education has gotten so bad that the only paths a kid has after high school are college, the military or prison.

It’s the government – oh there’s a popular one.  The government has subconsciously told kids that working with your hands isn’t worthwhile. How? They no longer give public education the funding that is needed to teach skilled and semi-skilled trades in schools. When I went to junior high and high school I took wood shop, metal shop, electrical shop, automotive repair, a cooking class, etc. I was told by my government, as part of my education, that these skills were important to society.

It’s the media. Besides “Dirty Jobs” which is played off as a goof reality show, what show makes you feel like working in a job that makes your hands dirty is a worthwhile and valued career in our society? None. Even if a manual labor type job is portrayed, it’s usually portrayed in a comedy sense of look how screwed up my life is for working this job. Our kids are blasted by the media constantly to only look up to people who work in white collar professions.

We all stopped valuing hard work. Dirty work. Difficult work. Unpretty work. Not socially acceptable work.

We are all to blame.

We need to start telling kids, little kids, it’s okay not to be a doctor or lawyer or banker. That being a plumber is a wonderful, fulfilling career. Being a line cook, creating someone’s meal, can be a really good job. Building some’s car is a noble profession.

Somewhere along the way, we stopped telling our kids that ‘working’ is a good thing, and started telling them, you need to go to college, because ‘working’ is bad. We have generations of kids being raised that think ‘working’ is bad. We should strive to get jobs where you don’t ‘work’. You should manage. You should lead. You should facilitate.

Not work, lord no. You might get your hands dirty. You might get a stain on your trousers. Someone might see you working! We are not a working-class family! Worst of all? You might actually like it! You might like fixing something. You might like building something. You might like creating something.

I miss a time when working was as valued as education.  When you could look up at your Mom and Dad and be proud of them for working at a job that brought them home dirty, but brought them home for dinner.

9 thoughts on “Who is responsible for the lack of good workers?

  1. Steve C., school administrators are not praised for how many of their graduates get well paid jobs unless they are also college graduates. A union plumber in Boston earns about $100K.

  2. Many white collar workers think they’re smarter than a plumber or an electrician, until their furnace fails in the middle of a snowstorm. These are professions that require post-secondary education, an apprentice period, certifications, and often pay in six figures. I just don’t understand why as a society we don’t direct more high schoolers in this direction. An expensive four year college degree is not for everyone!

  3. I think a key theme is the fact that kids don’t have many opportunities to learn tenacity. How many kids stick with something when it becomes hard? How many parents have the foresight to let go and let them fail – so that they will learn how to get back up? Working your way up takes tenacity. Working and budgeting living expenses on an entry level (or less) wage takes tenacity. It’s a lost art…

  4. Great points, Tim. We have under appreciated the trades (plumbers, electricians, mechanics) that pay a very good wage and do not require college. We have undervalued working your way up in the service sector, moving from dishwasher to cook to manager and beyond. It starts with parents, and what we tolerate as parents (in our schools, media, and entertainment) is coming back around and we are facing the consequences.

    • Laurel,

      You make a good point. We have forgotten the value of just working in a profession and being great at it. We now have to move up the ladder or we are considered failures within society. “What’s wrong with Tim, he’s been a recruiter for 5 years? Why hasn’t he moved up!?”

  5. Much of the message our kids get will boil down to the compensation rates for these various jobs. We can tell our kids it’s great to be a line cook or a chef all we want but the reality is you can’t earn a decent wage doing that and many other skilled jobs these days.
    Have al isten to the latest Freakonomics podcast about the tipping culture and how little back-of-house workers make. Try $ 24k… in NY City.

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