Doctor, lawyer, teacher, or mathematician? nearly every parent has dreamt that their child will go to college and get a Masters or Doctorate degree and be the smartest kid at the next family reunion (the smartest kid in “book smarts” that is). There has been an obvious focus by parents and educators on white collar jobs and such an emphasis on the superiority of going to a four-year state university that has a renowned football team to cheer on and sorority houses to witness the ‘true’ college experience. But with this expectation comes a society that has blinders on, paying no attention to vocational schools which offer training for specific careers that ensure the machine that is America continues to run smoothly behind the scenes.
In a school such as Lassiter, where shop class has been replaced with the STEM program and home economics is an afterthought, it can be expected that students are not aware of the opportunities in trade jobs. Therefore, applications are filled out to universities that offer ‘higher’ education and bank accounts are drained as parents dish out $30,000 or more a year while a trade school such as Chattahoochee Technical College costs a negligible $12,000 per year including housing. Many jobs that could be attained with a simple two-year Associate’s degree from a technical college have quite a significant salary. Construction managers earn an average salary of $87,000, dental hygienists make a salary of $72,000, and film editors almost $67,000. To put this in perspective, teaching and accounting, both of which require a four-year degree, have an average salary of $58,000 and $78,000 respectively.
Vocational jobs are also critical to the American economy. Currently, over fifty percent of trade skilled workers are over the age of forty-five. Every day, ten-thousand baby boomers (ages around sixty to seventy) retire, most of whom occupy these trade jobs. So, come the next decade, a whole new labor force will be needed to fill these positions? a labor force filled with people of generation Z.
The emphasis should no longer be placed on just white collar jobs but blue collar jobs too. Instead of placing a stigma on attending a trade school because it is ‘less prestigious’, society should be embracing it. There are six and a half million job openings in the United States and plenty of people to fill them, however, many unemployed feel that they are too qualified to fill these positions. So, the country finds itself with a conundrum of how to eradicate unemployment. The solution? start with educating the upcoming generation of high school graduates about vocational training.