There’s a lot of data to support the idea of going to college. As NPR reports, the jobless rate for Americans who have a high school diploma is twice what it is for those with four-year degrees, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
As NPR goes on to explain, there are many reasons to consider learning a trade, and piggybacking on the report in an insightful Huffington Post piece titled “No, Blue Collar and Middle-Skill Careers Aren’t Second Rate,” Virdis Learning founder and CEO Felix W. Ortiz III makes additional arguments on behalf of plumbing, welding, and electrical work. What follows is a summation of those two articles: four reasons why blue-collar jobs may be more attractive than ever.
1. They’re In Demand — In the midst of the digital revolution, the American education system put the focus on technology and giving young people “skills that would allow them to compete in the global economy,” Ortiz writes. With many older plumbers and electricians getting ready to retire, that’s left a gap in the market, and there will be millions of opportunities for tradesmen in the coming years. According to estimates, there half of the country’s 600,000 electrician job will open up in the coming years.
2. They’re Not for Dummies — There’s an attitude in America that manual labor is for people without intelligence, but as Ortiz writes, that’s simply not the case. In particular, he explains that manufacturing no longer entails standing on an assembly line and doing the same repetitive task over and over. “Manufacturers are more dependent than ever on people with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) training, and 15 of the 20 fastest growing jobs in the next decade will be STEM-related,” Ortiz writes. Also, many companies are partnering with community colleges to offer apprentices more well-rounded educations.
3. They Pay Well — While data shows people with four year degrees earn more on average, “averages lie,” as Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce director Anthony Carnevale tells NPR. Electricians make $5,000 more per year on average than college grads, and they’re not the only ones. “You can get a particular skill in a particular field and make more than a college graduate,” Carnevale says.
4. It’s Rewarding Work — As Ortiz writes, blue-collar workers keep the lights on and the water flowing. They’re the reasons potholes get fixed and the world generally functions as we’re accustomed to. There’s “great satisfaction,” Ortiz writes, “in working with your hands to solve complex mental and physical challenge.”