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Thread: Bring back the 'Trades'

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    Bring back the 'Trades'

    Here's an interesting article - (It's from a Christian website with some Christian references but that's not central to the discussion point).

    "David Culp, a contributor to the American Craftsman project, a documentary photography series that celebrates skilled trades, captures the enthusiasm: "The American craftsman still thrives, because when it comes to getting certain things done well and with beauty, a human hand guided by a human eye, ear, and imagination can still be the highest technology of all.""

    The article looks at the needs, challenges and benefits of the 'trades' and the importance of encouraging growth in that sector.

    Here's a link to one American group's evaluation of the 'Talent Shortage'.

    http://www.manpowergroup.us/campaign...shortage-2014/

    1 Skilled Trade Workers
    2 Restaurant and Hotel Staff
    3 Sales Representatives
    4 Teachers
    5 Drivers
    6 Accounting and Finance Staff
    7 Laborers
    8 IT Staff
    9 Engineers
    10 Nurses

    Personally, I've always admired the work of skilled tradesmen, and envied it. If I could go back and give myself some advice I'd definitely make some recommendations about acquiring different skills. Quite honestly, the idea of re-training and being able to apprentice (at 34 years old) is quite appealing. I don't mind the hard work involved in a lot of the trades and the satisfaction that comes from a job really well done is hard to beat. Working hard to building towards something is a great pleasure in life, especially when you achieving. A lot of that might be the romantic in me - it seems I often am drawn to things with thought to financial viability. Sad . Still, this quote from the article suggests that the trades are not necessarily the road to perpetual poverty if you build your skills,

    "But can the skilled trades bring "success," especially the economic kind? Even if Americans will always need plumbers, will plumbers be paid enough to support a family?

    In truth, skilled craftsmen in the United States earn salaries competitive to their cubicle-dwelling peers. Electricians and plumbers earn on average close to $50,000 annually. The average annual wage for elevator installers and repairers: $73,560; electrical repairers for power plants: $65,950; transportation inspectors: $65,770.

    The less technical skill required for a job, the smaller the wages. But for those who have apprenticed in an in-demand trade, times are looking up. In the best-selling book The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko note that the "typical millionaire" is the skilled craftsman who owns his or her own business.

    "Sometimes these guys are so shocked at what they can do and earn," says Yates. "They look at their college counterparts and see them saddled with debt and unable to find work.""

    Maybe that won't be the case for a lot of 'labourers' but I've a feeling it's still worth it.

    People have often talked about the need to encourage more kids in this direction and with all the student loan issues etc. I'd say it's only more needed.


    Your thoughts?
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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    The skills shortage in one country very rarely applies to another, so the situation in the UK is probably very different. We also have an Ace card - easy access to skilled workers across Europe.

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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    To be honest, I was looking at it more from the individual/productivity perspective rather than the need perspective -although the two relate.

    There is a definite sentiment, even in the UK, against the trades when in school - if you're smart you do A-levels and then uni, if not you try for a trade/apprenticeship. That sort of mindset has to be challenged, I think. People, perhaps especially young men, will be able to prosper and be far more productive in life via a trade than is suggested and in more way that just financially.

    I also think the notion of encouraging the pursuit of skills/art in one's work is extremely important, and I would love to see it encouraged.

    Related quote from the article (again from an American historical perspective):

    "For much of history, the vast majority of workers have labored with their hands, often applying highly specialized skills passed down through guilds and families. In the United States, however, the hands-mind divide accelerated after 1911, the year Frederick Winslow Taylor's Principles of Scientific Management was published. A classic work of industrial-era ideals, the monograph focused on gathering the knowledge of craftsmen, organizing it into highly efficient processes, and redistributing that work to laborers as small parts of a larger whole.

    Taylor's system, overseen by people in "management," allowed employers to cut costs and increase productivity by standardizing and simplifying manual labor. But, according to Taylor, "All possible brain work should be removed from the shop and centered in the planning or lay-out department." The previous union of craftsman and thinker, skilled laborer and scientist, began to disintegrate. What remained were "white-collar" planners and "blue-collar" workers.

    Concerned that craft knowledge was being lost, Congress passed the Smith–Hughes Act of 1917, which provided federal funding for manual training. But because the bill established separate state boards for vocational education, it had the unintended effect of sequestering the trades from the liberal arts."
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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    Some of those I wouldn't have considered Trades, per se.
    To be an actual 'Engineer', you need to have the degree, just like you would as a Doctor, Only difference is that the term is not protected as it is with Docs.

    Also, certainly as far as Engineers go, nowadays most find their skills qualify them better for other roles like Program Management, far better than qualified program managers, so they go and earn more money doing that.

    I work with a number of older engineers!!

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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    Fair enough, although that list is just a top ten of 'Talent Needs' in the USA as determined by the Manpower Group. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with 'trades'. It's just that 'Skilled Trade Workers' has been top of their list for a few years now.
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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    Quote Originally Posted by Galant View Post
    There is a definite sentiment, even in the UK, against the trades when in school - if you're smart you do A-levels and then uni, if not you try for a trade/apprenticeship.
    That wasn't the case in my school, so where I'm coming from, that statement doesn't make sense. In both primary and secondary education craft skills were very much encouraged and pushed as career routes. I was schooled in Derbyshire so I don't know if there's some kind of north/south divide in that aspect.

    I do think we have a problem with respect for teachers - it's not seen as a successful career path and it's hard to quantify what effect missing out on potentially great teachers is having on our country.
    Last edited by kalniel; 05-08-2014 at 06:39 PM.

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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    I wouldn't say that when I was in school such an idea was promoted by the teachers or school at all. However, I definitely felt that attitude in general. Perhaps it's more to do with the massive focus given to the GCSE to A-Level to Degree... path whereas as a path involving trades or similar was little presented or discussed.

    Even if inadvertent, putting the academic route up as the sole goal I think leads kids to think that such is the 'real' prize the 'real' path.

    I supposed this would tie in the with questions about the wider idea of education and whether it should be so heavily/solely focused on academic achievement.
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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    I've long felt that the 'degree' route was built on a false premise, that of the more, the better. Sure, lots of career paths (lawyers, accountants, doctor's, scientists, and more) require (or to almost all practical purposes, require) a degree. And I'd even question whether some of those "need" it, other than that it's almost impossible to get in, without one.

    Take accountancy. When I trained for my ACA, of all those I knew or worked with, two didn't have degrees. One was ex-forces re-training, and the other was on medical grounds. And they faced a minimum 5-year training, as opposed to the minimum 3-yr for graduates.

    There was also a general feeling, that if you could get a degree, you did, and if you couldn't get in, you either did a "second-class" further-ed course, like a Polytechnic, or, gasp, shock, got an actual job.

    And of course, it was all pretentious hogwash.

    Just how much help is a degree in botany, or modern art, or zoology, in training as an accountant? The ONLY thing it proves, as far as I can tell, is that getting a degree proves you're bright enough and self-disciplined enough, to do it. But it takes 3 years of your life to get that degree, and after starting accountancy, a large percentage of trainees will never use a single word or fact of the subject they got the degree in. I did economics, with a lot of business studies, industrial relations, statistics, mathematics, etc, and I used relatively little even of that.

    Some career lines have a very high, pompous even, view of themselves. And that's what led to lots of "second class" colleges, polytechnics, etc, "converting" to universities. Personally, I feel that many vocational courses are HUGELY under-rated, and that in today's employment market, stuffed to the gills with graduates doing relatively unskilled work because their degree means little, because so many people have them, we ought to be putting FAR more emphasis on vocational training, though GOOD vocational training, that will provide a good grounding for an actual career.

    I mean, even my economics with all the associated businessy bits, was very little use in accountancy. If you didn't have that as your degree, you did an extra module or two in your Foundation year of accountancy, and tg2at put the economics degrees, or maths degrees, pretty much on the level footing with botany or classics degrees. Mostly what several years of economics, maths, statistics, econometrics, etc (from one of the best uni's in the country for such a course) taugnt me was to be sceptical as hell about what economists, never mind politicians, tell you about the economy. Not, IMHO, a terribly productive use for three years of my life .... especially given that after years more in accountancy, I decided the last thing I could stand doing with my remaining 30 or 40 years of working life was accountancy.

    So, other than, I s'pose, a decent grounding in the university of life, all that training and education, and years of grind, proved to be an utter waste of years, career-wise. Great fun, especially the uni part, though not so much the accountancy, but actual relevance to what I've done since? Naff-all, really.

    And, I ended up plying my "skill" in what I guess is a trade, sort-of at least.

    I'm not sure what I'd do if I could go back to age 18, knowing what I know now. I might still go to uni, but it wouldn't be for the same course, and it sure as hell wouldn't be accountancy. More likely I'd do a vocational course. What subject I would do? Dunno.

    I definitely would, however, be looking long and hard at a 'career' doing something I actually enjoyed. Certainly that'd be the case given that in my day, a degree (at least, a decent one) pretty much guaranteed a decent job, a foot in the door of a "career". Now, not so much.

    I'd also be looking for something I could do working for myself, not in a big office. A 'trade'? Very possibly.

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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    Interesting that nursing is on the list. You mention the difference in wages in the USA, but within the nursing profession the disparity is even greater. Nurses in the UK start at around GBP21,000 a year, while starting pay in the US is typically over $60k, with large increases for advanced qualifications. Most of the nurses I work with have incomes well north of $100k.

    Yet the USA still has a critical shortage of nurses. Income is not enough, with the current generation, to overcome a profession which simply lacks glamour.

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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    Correct me if I'm wrong but my understanding is that the role of nurses is very different between the USA and the UK. I've no idea how the training or training length differs but I believe nurses in the USA have a much more expanded role, performing tasks which are restricted to doctors in the UK.

    That might explain the salary difference.
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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    When in a few years I get sidelined into being too old for modern IT, contingency is to retrain as an electrician. If I could go back in time I'd have gone that route at 18 rather than wasting years on pointless university. Not that I regret uni - 2 years drinking plus one of study was fun but a complete waste of time.

    Current trend of sending everyone to uni is flawed madness IMO. Neighbour kid is 18 and -can't remember to feed the dog without mum texting him- stupid. But is at uni.

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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    Nursing in the US is governed by different state laws. Depending on the state, nurses can have more independence than in the UK, or be able to give more drugs without a physicians order, but it's not massively different.. Nursing is a three year degree in the UK and a minimum two year associates degree in the US. UK degrees specialise in a specific area, while in the US additional training is post-graduate. A UK nurse can become qualified in the US through testing only, no additional training required, and many do. It's a skilled trade that, thanks to the shortage, is eligible for work visas.

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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    Quote Originally Posted by wasabi View Post
    Current trend of sending everyone to uni is flawed madness IMO.
    Still fewer than half of people go to uni though, right? About 35% of 18 year olds go to uni, 40% by 19. That's some way short of 'everyone'.

    source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25432377

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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    Still fewer than half of people go to uni though, right? About 35% of 18 year olds go to uni, 40% by 19. That's some way short of 'everyone'.

    source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25432377
    OK, not everybody - other figures suggest approx half. Getting rid of polytechnics was IMO stupid as it helped devalue traditional universities and degrees. At the same time mickey-mouse degrees create an expectation that you go to uni to study media studies / sports psychology and that you should walk into a good job despite still being functionally almost illiterate. Half of the country's population and 'academic' are not two things I'd have in heavily overlapping venn diagrams.

    Real skills and work has became a bit socially second rate in the modern world. That is a shame.
    Last edited by wasabi; 07-08-2014 at 03:30 PM. Reason: Brain keyboard interface error

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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    Quote Originally Posted by wasabi View Post
    Getting rid of polytechnics was IMO stupid as it helped devalue traditional universities and degrees.
    I disagree with that because many polytechnics are excellent universities now. There was no need for a two-tier system. Each university stands on its own reputation now, for better or for worse.

    At the same time mickey-mouse degrees create an expectation that you go to uni to study media studies / sports psychology and that you should walk into a good job despite still being functionally almost illiterate.
    Same applies to studying a number of subjects at traditional universities over the years no? Arts, classics etc. there have always been a range of subjects which are not vocational - university is not about just being trained for a job - very few people in fact go on to do something directly related to their degree, however the process of going to university has been an important life skill for some.

    Half of the country's population and 'academic' are not two things I'd have in heavily overlapping venn diagrams.
    I'm guessing this is a concession to the above point - but like I said, for many jobs it is beneficial to have continued studying *something* for a few more years after school, together with the university life experience. But not for all jobs, obviously.

    Socially real skills and work has became a bit socially second rate in the modern world. That is a shame.
    I agree with that wholeheartedly. See earlier comment about teachers.

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    Re: Bring back the 'Trades'

    Its all relative. For example I.T can no longer be considered to be a single 'trade'. Cyber is the new networking and is a field all of its own. Its commanding stupid salaries at the moment (starting at 70k plus for Analysts) and only now are we seeing the first Cyber degrees approved by GCHQ appearing.

    What will be interesting is how those who come from the degree side in three or four years compare with those who have the experience and vendor qualifications.

    In the forces we have always been broken into distinct trades (particular in the RAF) for non commissioned and branches for the officers so it can often be easier for external employers to identify our skill sets as the common skills are all defined by our trade boundaries.

    As for Polytechnics they should have remained so. I went to Bournemouth Uni, there was very little 'uni' about that. Wish I had realised that before I started the course all those years ago.

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