When I was in high school, back in the dark ages where we changed our own oil at home, there were life skill classes. I never took any, but they were there. There were ‘Home-Ec’ classes for women only where young ladies learned how to sew and cook and homey things like that.  Today if we had classes teaching females how to cook, or anything actually that singled the female gender out, principal’s offices would be filled with angry protestors armed with a designated Facebook page and live streaming.

Shop classes have gone by the wayside as well. These educational segments were where young men developed necessary man-life-skills such as auto bodywork, how to build a picnic table and synchronized farting.

Also, sometime over the last 20 or so years, the fancy art of writing in cursive was replaced by keyboards everywhere. Nowadays it’s perfectly acceptable for an American adult in their early 20’s to print in block letters like a drunken 5-year-old. No more making sure your lower case e’s only went to the top of the white dotted line on the big paper.

We replaced these life skills with a push to go to college. ‘You have to get a college degree’ they said. ‘You’re better than working in a factory’ parents told their kids everywhere. And while we do need academia, we also need people that can work with their hands and think through things. We NEED plumbers, electricians and people that can make a pie crust from scratch. (yes, that’s a need). So these kids have been led to kick life-skills to the curb in order to pursue higher education. They’ve borrowed enormous amounts of money to fund these dreams that society has imprinted in their young minds.

A couple of years ago, a young man at a local big box store was helping me with choosing a new weedeater. I mentioned something about a town I used to live in. He replied that he had lived in that same town and went to college there. He said that’d he had graduated from college there and moved back here. I asked if he had a college degree how did he end up selling weedeaters? He said there was no big job demand for a degree in….

wait for it…

this young man had a degree in ‘Industrial Concrete Application’. He was working selling yard equipment to pay back his student loans for a piece of paper that he can’t use. He went to Vegas and lost. But hey, he got the ‘college experience’. And mom and dad were then able to prove their parental worthiness at the restaurant dinner table with friends by announcing that ‘Our little Bobby has graduated from college’!

So how do we fix this?  This article shows the most popular jobs are in the arts, skilled trades and sciences. Note that in the Skilled Trades section the rise from 2013 to 2017 was in Tile and Marble Setters. That skill grew 18% in 4 years. The average hourly rate is $21.20 and all that is needed is a high school diploma. Also of note is that the amount of workers under 25 in that sampling is only 11%.

Finding our life career isn’t always easy and many times, not always, going to college is nothing but a legalized gamble. There’s nothing certain. But one thing that IS certain about life is we all have to work and make money for a roof over our head, electricity, vehicles and taking our kids to Disney World one day.  Sure, we can say that ‘I can get by without those things’. We can. But when we say that I don’t really ‘need’ a flashy new red vehicle, have we legalized minimalizing as an excuse to simply avoid adulthood and be outright lazy?

As parents are we wanting Bobby and Cindy to go to college for Bobby and Cindy? Or are we wanting them to go to college so that WE can tell our dinner party guests that our kids ‘have a degree’. And then when our dinner party guests have left, we worry about our kid’s financial future because they are covered up in college debt and are forced to work in a job that they didn’t even NEED that piece of paper for?

This country needs workers of every sort.  Not just people with degrees. Yes, our great country needs doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers and teachers with higher education and framed papers on their walls.

And each one of those working people has a toilet that stops up, a yard that needs mowing and a doohickey in the attic that needs repairing. Each one of these jobs doesn’t require a framed paper on the wall. They require some common sense and a person that doesn’t mind getting dirt under their nails or sweat stains in the summer. They also require a few tools. But those few tools are a lot cheaper than the cost of that paper on the wall.

We adults have to change our views before we can expect the next generation to change theirs.

So the next time we’re offering adulting advice to a younger generation let’s not forget that many businesses only survive by attrition and transfers. That piece of paper could get your kids and grandkids moved to another country if you even have a job with it.

But here at home, you’ll never get transferred if you learn to work with your hands. You can rest assured that you’ll always have a job and make good money as a plumber.

Because everyone, everywhere poos.

That’s the best that I can tell about it.