by Ray Hayes
During the 2016 GOP debates, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the famous line, “Welders make more money than philosophers.”
For those unaware, I consider myself a philosopher, not because I think critically about the meaning of life or anything, but because I earned a bachelor’s degree in studt of Philosophy from Morehouse College. So when Sen. Rubio made the comment in 2016, I was a little hurt but understood that there was truth in his words.
In the United States there are more than 30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 and do not require a bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, the US Department of Education has reported that Americans with a technical education are more likely to be employed compared to their peers with academic degrees.
These numbers are interesting and support Booker T. Washington’s ideology versus W.E.B. DuBois in which Washington promoted technical education over simple academics. I recently had a conversation with a friend about the need to bring back technical education in high school and this recent news only backs my belief. After the conversation I made it a priority to gather some statistics about this topic and today, I am sharing with you what I found.
Many states within the US are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, with one of the reasons being the ignorance of job opportunities for tradesmen that pay well. According to PBS.org, “Research by the state’s 114-campus community college system showed that families and employers alike didn’t know of the existence or value of vocational programs and the certifications they confer, many of which can add tens of thousands of dollars per year to a graduate’s income.” Furthermore, only about 8 percent of undergraduate students are enrolled in a certificate program that is vocationally oriented. The bad thing about this report is many minorities and people of color lack this knowledge about vocational education and the wealth you can gain from having a career in these fields.
Speaking for myself, my parents always talked about the need to get an academic degree throughout my entire life but never mentioned the opportunities of a tradesman. Understanding now, if I didn’t have the grades to get into college then I would have missed out on a big opportunity because I knew nothing of it.
Andrew Hanson, a senior research analyst with Georgetown University’s, said it best, “High schools and community colleges are the keys to filling industrial jobs, but something needs to change.” The change that needs to take place is to make skilled trade jobs attractive and broaden the appeal for the growing millennial workforce. In addition, unions must make jobs and apprenticeships information available to everyone. Take it as you want, but a lot of minorities and people of color are not given the opportunities to become engineers and many other vocational apprenticeships due to prejudice and lack of information/recruitment. A lot of unions only recruit the family members and friends of those currently in the union and those current members aren’t people of color. So, change is necessary because diversity is simply the natural progression of America.
In the coming weeks I will be detailing those trades job who lack workers due to low technical education. As always thank you and be on the lookout for more in the coming days.