Skip to comments.Blue-collar jobs need better image amid labor shortage, leaders say
Posted on 04/29/2014 9:46:19 AM PDT by thackney
Domestic energy development is spurring demand for skilled electricians, welders and mechanics, but the U.S. needs to do more to encourage people to enter the trades, lawmakers were told Tuesday.
These workers will be needed to install new pipelines and manufacture drilling equipment as companies extract more oil and gas from the United States, witnesses told the House Natural Resources Committee. But building a workforce capable of sustaining the domestic energy boom means overcoming the stigma attached to blue collar jobs.
Mechanics are still thought of as grease monkeys. In truth, theyre more like rocket scientists today, said Mike Rowe, host of the Dirty Jobs television show. The skilled trades, once held in high esteem, are now seen as some kind of vocational consolation prize.
Rowe displayed a poster from his teenage years that depicts a beaming college grad holding a diploma alongside a downtrodden chap in blue coveralls. Work smart, not hard, the poster says.
That message that a college education is best and other work is tough has fueled a skills gap in the United States, even amid high unemployment, Rowe noted.
These portrayals are powerful, and over time, theyve had a real impact, he said.
The recruitment concerns are in focus as a generation of baby boomers retire.
At the same time, the surge in domestic drilling is creating record demand for construction jobs in the oil and gas industry, said Robert Flurer, vice president of Skeels Electric Co.
While there is measurable value in a traditional college education, we would be remiss if we did not discuss some possible alternative routes for students who might not think a standard four-year degree is the right path for them or did not wish to take on the burden of graduating with hundreds of thousands of student loan debt with no guarantee of a job, Flurer said.
onica Martinez, president of the group Hispanics in Energy, said the transitioning workforce will mean new job opportunities, with some energy companies anticipating as many as a third of their employees retiring over the next decade.
We must continue to spread the message of the opportunity available in the energy field, she said.
But Sean McGarvey, president of North Americas Building Trades Unions, noted other hurdles beyond perception problems and recruitment challenges.
He blamed regulations and permitting delays for holding up energy infrastructure projects, including the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and proposed facilities to export natural gas.
The permitting process for energy and other badly needed infrastructure projects across this country moves at a snails pace because of the bureaucratic logjam here in Washington, McGarvey said. Government must become an advocate for business, an advocate for American workers and an advocate for jobs and stop being an adversary or a roadblock.
A trillion dollars in student loans. Record high unemployment. Three million good jobs that no one seems to want. The goal of Profoundly Disconnected is to challenge the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success. The Skills Gap is here, and if we dont close it, itll swallow us all. Which is a long way of saying, we could use your help
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The mikeroweWORKS Foundation is concerned with promoting hard work and supporting the skilled trades in a variety of areas. Primarily, we award scholarships to young men and women who have illustrated both an interest and an aptitude around mastering a specific trade. Qualified candidates include those students who want to advance their education through an accredited trade school or apprenticeship program, exhibit high work ethic and need financial assistance.
Most recently, the Foundation has created more than $1.6 million in education scholarships with schools around the country, including Midwest Technical Institute, Tulsa Welding School and Universal Technical Institute. Click here to find out about The Next Big Thing for the latest news.
Additionally, the Foundation supports SkillsUSA by covering travel costs for competing students who could otherwise not afford to attend. We also provide tool stipends for top students that have graduated from accredited AED schools.
I think the message is if you work for wages you will never get ahead.
The message is correct.
There was a time when American business invested money in their workforce. Training them. Growing their value. Now they just sit back and whine that nobody is giving them what they need.
And when things turn down, they kick their workers butts out the door. When things turn up, why can’t we find good people!!!
It’s the government/academic axis, stupid.
We have the same problem in South Africa where the average age of artisans is now about 58. Very few new trainees and the facilities to train them no longer exist to any great extent. School leavers are being encouraged to go to university and very often go for “soft” degrees. There is no way that they will ever be able to create their own jobs, whereas an artisan could be self-employed and perhaps even employ a couple of assistants.
Low cost solutions:
Back when I was a pup, even learning rudimentary trade skills (electrician, in my case) gave you access to summer jobs which paid significantly better than your run-of-the-mill burger flipper, retail sales clerk type jobs where the young must go today.
Further, there was also no stigma attached to taking a semester, or even a year or more, off college to earn a little money and minimize the amount of student loans you took on. A lot of normal people did it, including Sarah Palin. In fact, those who actually completed a four year degree were the exception, not the rule. They basically fell into these categories:
Best year of my college academics came the year after I spent a summer working as the grunt on an electrical lineman crew.
After I learned what it was really like to work for a living, I did a better job earning my engineering degree.
I grew up working on farms and did factory maintenance for years before, so I didn’t consider myself a slouch. But tamping poles into the ground made me so sore I couldn’t lift my arms to comb my hair some days. Twice I fell asleep leaning into the corner of my shower after work.
The only way to keep those otherwise unemployable college ‘professors’ employed is by denigrating blue collar work. Nearly the entire college industry is nothing more than an employment program for the losers who couldn’t run a lemonaide stand.
My daughter’s best friend decided after one semester that college was not for her.
She enrolled in a tech school, and is now working as a welder out in the shale fracking fields.
As a female minority welder she finds herself in HUGE demand.
Blue collar jobs are where the real income split is between male and female. Why? Because very few women want to do the very nasty hard work that brings in the big bucks. Even on the skilled side, you see few women (machinists, welders, pipe fitters).
Retail and clerical just doesn’t pay as well, because its a helluva lot easier than roofing and a lot cleaner than sewer work.
She made a good choice, see my #10.
You’re absolutely correct.
On a related subject, I’ve been visiting a lot of car dealerships looking at cars. Almost all the salespeople are men, which seems odd, you’d think many women could be quite successful in this. They certainly are at real estate.
Of course, the jag-offs who fill out the vast ranks of our underclass has no motivation to take them and get a start up the ladder.
On the other hand, my father was a field veterinarian when I was born and a college professor when he retired. He often told me that getting sprayed with a pile of cow crap on a 30 below Wyoming winter morning while performing his job was preferable to some of the faculty meetings that he had to sit through.
“The only way to keep those otherwise unemployable college professors employed is by denigrating blue collar work. Nearly the entire college industry is nothing more than an employment program for the losers who couldnt run a lemonaide stand.”
A good description of the Academia scandal currently in control of our higher education institutions. With the exception of professors in mathematics/engineering, chemistry/physics/biology, and econ/business courses, the rest of them are as you described - mostly ‘losers who could not run a lemonade stand’.
Would Ward Churchill and Billy Ayers ever have a job if it weren’t for colleges???
Pure BS. Tell that to the many people I know living in luxury high-rises in Honolulu. Truck drivers, mechanics, plumbers, pipe-fitters.... the list goes on. And not one ever a business for themselves. Why would you say such a thing?
And the winner for best post on this thread is... Great observation.
Your father was a funny guy and a shrewd observer of academia. I salute him! There was a Scottish author who wrote, in a series of books about a vet with a large animal practice, where cow crap on a cold morning just went with the job.
Thanks. My Dad did a little writing in his final years, but gravitated more toward chickens, which can be very interesting critters and a LOT less strenuous than large animals.