Those of us who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s probably heard our parents say, “Go to college to get a good job” a few dozen times in our young adulthood. This advice implicated that if you earn a four-year degree, you are guaranteed a good paying, white collar career. However, it’s no secret that universities are places of higher learning, not job readiness institutions.
College May Not Be Their Best Option
This misconception has resulted in monumental student loan debt and the harsh reality that – unless you are earning a degree in a skilled profession – college may not be the best option for graduating high school students. Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs said it best:
“We are lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist.”
Tech School Graduates Start Their Careers Sooner
Vocational schools often get a bad rap. It is commonly thought of as a place where the “bad” or “dumb” kids have to go because they aren’t smart enough for the classroom. Blue-collar workers are often looked down upon by a society that values knowledge over skilled labor. However, unemployment rates are on the rise and most college graduates do not get into their preferred careers until their late 20s or early 30s. Vocational and skilled trades careers offer certification programs in less than 2 years, on-the-job training, and most walk away from their education with little or no student debt. With 31 million skilled trades positions becoming available by 2020, there is no shortage of opportunity in the trades for these graduates.
You Want Your Kids to Be Successful
It’s important to expose your kids to a variety of career options, including non-university options, in an unbiased way that gives students increased choices and encourages them to find a secure career they are passionate about rather than a job title that is trending today, but will be non-existent in 10 years (most likely due to out-sourcing or artificial intelligence). Ultimately, we want our kids to work hard, be useful, and support themselves. The skilled trades industry not only provides stable jobs that can’t be outsourced, they offer the ability to learn problem-solving skills, career advancement, and a sense of pride in one’s work.
Encourage Your Kids to Explore All Types of Careers
When your kids are deciding what path to take after high school, encourage them to explore all types of careers. While a 4-year degree may be what your parents told you to do, there are several great reasons why your kids should consider being a welder or an electrician who doesn’t have to wait to start their career and earn a good living, rather than a sociology or anthropology major struggling to find a job their passionate about. For more information on the benefits of a skilled trades career, get to know your local construction industry.