A survey reveals a shortfall of skilled workers such as carpenters, welders, and electricians in many of the countries of the West:
The shortage of skilled workers is the No. 1 or No. 2 hiring challenge in six of the 10 biggest economies…Skilled trades were the top area of shortage in 10 of 17 European countries, according to the survey.
The short-term suggestion: importing workers from other countries. Long-term: encourage more people to go into the fields.
I’ve never understood this business of looking down on skilled laborers. I envied them, in a way. They comprehended the workings of mechanical objects, something I’m bad at. They never sat staring at an item like a camera, wondering how to open the little door in order to change the batteries, nor did they stand in frustrated puzzlement in some hotel bathroom at 3 in the morning, pushing the thingamagig that controlled the shower this way and that in a futile effort to find the magic combination of movements that would send the water coursing from the shower head.
What’s more, I had always heard that trades were survival skills, especially good in a situation such as the Depression (my parents had lived through that), in which such services might be traded for goods, and the ability to repair things and keep old machinery going was especially vital. Knowledge of skilled trades was also particularly valuable (and movable) during wartime, when refugeeing from conflict or persecution could become necessary. Those who survived World War II often did so by having such skills, instantly transferable and not requiring the acquisition of a new language.
Now, nearly everybody seems to want to go to college, although not everyone is suited for it. I’m saying that as someone who was suited for it, but never valued the ability overmuch, nor thought it made me better than someone who dealt in more concrete pursuits (such as, for example, concrete). Perhaps that’s because I grew up in a mostly blue collar community, and observed quite early on that the intelligentsia had no corner on intelligence or common sense.