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It's Ok to Get on the Bus

Twice a day; in the morning and after lunch, students would board a yellow bus and travel 15 minutes east to our school districts skill center. Now from my vague perspective it seemed that it was nothing more than a place for students to “blow off” traditional classroom book work and lecturing type schooling. In some ways I was envious, but in other ways I considered it to be a waste of time. How could I ever get into college if “Skill Center” was on my resume?

I’m a 1999 graduate.

Our class motto; “We Saved the Best for Last” (which in public we said was because it was the final graduating class before the new millennium began, but deep down it was because we all were sure the world was going to crash once the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve. Thank you Y2K!) At that point everything we did was to prepare for going to college. Standardized tests, personality profiles, college prep classes, scholarship programs, school assemblies, etc. all drove the notion into our brains that you HAD to go to College.

I grew up working on our farm. I know how to use tools, I can weld, fabricate, change oil, and can drive about anything, but the push was always towards college. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to discredit my college education but when I look at the balance, there was significantly more weight placed on college preparation then there was on skilled trades.

Fast forward to 2016 and we are experiencing that bubble. A degree isn’t as golden as it used to be, especially if it’s not the right one. I was listening to a podcast called Entreleadership where they were interviewing Mike Rowe (host of Dirty Jobs and the golden voice narrating Deadliest Catch). He said this, “We’re (our country) lending money we don’t have, to kids who can’t pay it back, in order to educate them for jobs that no longer exist.” Everywhere you look there are businesses clamoring for skilled tradesman. With each retiring baby boomer that pool of welding, machining, painting, plumbing, electrical, etc., talent is becoming shallower and shallower. When you consider the actual, physical, elements of our infrastructure, skilled trades are an absolute necessity. Going to the skill center doesn’t seem so pointless now!

The truth is that skilled trade jobs are available but they are not getting a lot of press. Learning a trade can be a pathway to entrepreneurship, ownership, and/or a well-paying, fulfilling career. A college education can be a great thing but it’s not for everyone. Don’t be afraid to get on the bus!

I’ll step down off my soap box now because I want to hear from you.

What are your experiences? Thoughts? Are you an employer looking for someone with a skill or willing to learn a skill? Please Comment and have a great day!

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