At some point in our lives, we all have to decide what we want to be when we grow up. It is at this point that most people look for some kind of guidance or direction because, let’s be honest, these decisions are not easy ones to make. For years the norm was to place heavy emphasis on continuing education post high school. I couldn’t agree more that education is the key to finding success regardless of career path chosen. I know that in the current environment of start-up tech explosions and internet fast cash many of the stars are college dropouts, this is true. However that is not to say that these shining exceptions to the rule were not educated in their own right. Education is important regardless of how it is achieved.
For many years, education was perceived only as a traditional 4 year degree from a prestigious university. Standing in a cap and gown, you parents so proud and holding onto that beautiful, calligraphy written piece of paper. A lot of these persons were the first generation graduating in these scenarios with little-to-no debt. Setting off on rewarding careers in their chosen professions with little to worry about. So all is well and the future to come will experience the same feelings right? Well…
It turns out that while the emphasis on education was a positive force for good, sending droves into education that may not have otherwise pursued the avenue. We may have missed the mark and forgot to tell people that education does not always mean getting a MBA or suffering crippling debt to achieve these desired results. At some point, we managed to morph our more affordable technical colleges into pseudo, mini-universities. Places that are more focused on quick turn, business orientated degrees instead of the traditional industrial minded facilities they once were.
Now I know what many of you are thinking, “but we don’t make anything here anymore.” Not true. Over 9% of the American workforce is employed directly in manufacturing. That is over 12 million jobs and that isn’t counting the millions more in the industries that support the manufacturing sector or the industrial trades. That is a substantial number that at some point was simply marginalized by everyone reaching for a sometimes unnecessary and increasingly overpriced 4 year degree.
When this move toward everyone achieving the dream of a college education began, the manufacturing sector was shrinking. People were afraid and they were led to believe, after many years of struggle by the American worker, that happiness was not achieved in a dirty factory or working with your hands. There was a need for educating oneself to achieve prosperity and make a better life for their families. This wasn’t entirely untrue at the time. However, the technologically advanced facilities of today are a far cry from the plants of even 20 years ago. Today’s manufacturing and trades sectors are not the dirty, dark, holes where dreams go to die like we are led to believe. Today’s manufacturing and trades jobs include technologically savvy careers in robotics, mathematics, and other highly technical fields with nowhere to go but up.
So whether you are looking for direction as a young person fresh out on your own. Or, simply someone who is in need of a new career path, why not challenge yourself to be different. The career paths in manufacturing and industrial trades are rewarding, stimulating, well paying, and stable career choices. These positions will lead a new industrial revolution with no end in growth potential for eager minds to take advantage of and succeed.