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For years, there’s been such a push to encourage every high school graduate to go to college that our society has almost marginalized the blue-collar worker. It’s not uncommon to see those in labor jobs treated with disrespect by some. So many people don’t value the skills and knowledge it takes to perform the bulk of the hands-on tasks skilled workers need to complete. Sadly, it’s leading to a decided lack of trained people to fill the open positions at many companies.
Patrick James of First Brands Group is leading the charge to improve the way companies value blue-collar employees. The automotive industry has something called the University of the Aftermarket. Its purpose is to help automotive technicians learn and continue to update the skills they need to ensure our automobiles continue to run well. First Brands Group is planning on donating to the foundation that supports the university’s efforts for each new customer they land until the end of March, 2021. Other companies are running similar training and initiatives in their own sectors.
Training Our Youth
It’s not enough to stop pressuring every high school graduate to go to college. We need, as a culture, to encourage kids to get the training needed to fill these skilled labor jobs before there’s so much of a gap between people with the skills and jobs available that the bulk of the jobs go unfilled. Apprenticeships, technical schools, the Society for Human Resource Management toolkit, Job Corp and even the military give resources and/or hands-on training in a variety of skilled trades-working positions. Our youth need to be encouraged not just to avail themselves of these programs, but to view labor positions as a great means to reach their dreams.
With a whole generation of people having been encouraged away from skilled labor positions by people whose opinions they respect, we have our work cut out for us to help people see that these are jobs that require technical knowledge and skills that are both worthy of admiration. Your electrician cannot perform the required electrical work on your home without having completed hours of apprenticeship and training as well as passing several tests. Welders, pipefitters, mechanics, air traffic controllers and technicians in all kinds of industries face the same kinds of certification requirements. The days of the uneducated ditch digger are long over and as a society, we need to embrace the fact that skilled trades workers are both a necessary part of all of our lives and a respectable career opportunity into which we should encourage our youth.
What If We Don’t?
There are consequences to our lives if we fail to stop this trend. Losing the ability to fix things that break is costly when our only recourse is to replace the broken item. Not only that, it increases the trash we dump into landfills, thereby harming our environment. Not having enough people to fill these skilled labor positions means that companies have to move their operations to other countries, which lowers our GDP as a country as well as lowering the number of white-collar jobs available.
We must adjust our attitudes regarding skilled labor in conjunction with encouraging people to fill these positions.
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