Sue Lani Madsen hit the nail on the head in her Sept. 2 Opinion piece, “Apprenticeship logjam”, and Tim Carter hammered the point home in “Ask the Builders” on Sept. 5, bemoaning “… the disappearance of skilled laborers.”
Our country desperately needs more top-notch apprenticeship trade programs! Moreover, we, the public, need to re-learn the fact that a skilled craftsperson is way more employable, and arguably more important, than a person with a liberal arts degree and $100,000 in student-loan debt.
In my long lifetime, I’ve seen “credentialism” become totally overblown, and bachelor’s and even master’s degrees become required for professions that were previously learned “on-the-job”! Our young people are taught that a college degree is necessary, to “be somebody,” and to look down on those who do physical labor. A nurse with a desk and an advanced degree is somehow “better” than a nurse who does grueling patient care! How sad.
Over in Germany, young people are allowed to leave school at age 14, but they are emphatically NOT allowed to be “drop-outs”! They must enter their choice of an apprenticeship, which can last for years, but during which they are (to quote my granddaughter’s boyfriend) “very well paid.”
A German can become a journeyman engineer by age 19, while being paid to learn! Therefore, Germany has quite low unemployment, as every young person is trained in a marketable skill. (A German university education, by the way, is free, except for textbooks, but that’s a subject for a different letter!)