The writing staff here at NPS are all college graduates and most of our readers are also similarly “educated”. Why did we go on to higher education, especially a school as expensive as UW-Madison? For most people, the answer is something about getting better jobs.
On the same hand, we are inundated with articles about how college graduates are un- or under- employed and the trend is very slow to change. For some graduates, like those of law schools, it’s even worse news. Roughly 50% of all students have a job within nine (9!) months of graduating, a frightfully long time when you have bills to pay (including your student loans…)
So what’s the problem? Do we not have enough jobs for these individuals? Is our education system a mess? Well, the answer to the last question is clearly yes, however, I believe the answer is not what you think.
Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.”
Rowe has a laundry list of experiencing working tough jobs across the country in a variety of industries and highlighting the resolve, tenacity, and fortitude of many working Americans. His claims are centered around the idea that there are plenty of great paying jobs to be found, if only one knows where to look.
Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)
Most of our audience is pursuing a college education or has already received their degrees and I’m not urging anyone to throw down their current job and become a plumber. I’m sharing this because it is important to note that better education systems does NOT mean more people go to traditional 4 year schools. Raw enrollment numbers are not the answer and we are remiss in thinking that more college graduates on their own are going to solve problems.
We need people who see opportunity where opportunity exists. We need enthusiasm for careers that have been overlooked and underappreciated by society at large. We need to have a really big national conversation about what we value in the workforce
Let me know your thoughts!