Some of you may remember the TV show named Dirty Jobs starring host Mike Rowe.
From 2005 to 2012, Rowe would tag along with people who had the dirtiest jobs in America. He was outstanding at capturing the essence of a job in the most graphic of details, helping viewers appreciate all of the jobs that came with disgusting smells and physically demanding conditions.
As I meander about the county, I learn so much from so many people.
There are quite a few employers in our rural communities struggling to find people who know how or want to work with their hands. Nobody wants to get dirt under the fingernails anymore.
Our society is guiding youth in the direction of working with computers, solely. Many schools have eliminated shop classes. Starting in seventh grade, I recall taking classes for woodworking, electrical, and metals. Spot welding, wiring, using drills and saws, I learned it all. And, then we had home economics classes, so I learned how to sew a pillow and a jacket, while also learning how to bake food like apple crisp. Surprisingly, while I wasn’t crazy about the home economics classes, that experience has unexpectedly come in handy throughout my life. I just don’t care to brag too much about my fabulous sewing skills, if you know what I mean.
We need more construction workers, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, and farmhands — just to name a few. We are reaching a point at which there is more work to be done than there are tradesmen to get the job done.
And, while many of us think we are getting smarter because we have all of this technology at our fingertips, such as a smartphone, I would argue that we are actually getting dumber.
There are some people who will call an electrician because they don’t know how to change a light bulb. Well, either they don’t know how, or they are too lazy to figure it out. Nonetheless, they are paying a professional to do something that is ridiculously easy. We have so many people who don’t know how to use a hammer or screwdriver.
Adding to the challenge is the changing dynamic of the family farm. In years past, kids growing up on farms learned how to fix and build things with their hands. They passed that knowledge onto their children. With fewer farms and smaller farm families, we are steadily losing ground with the next generations.
Today, with the absence of shop classes in schools, if your father was inept to the trades then you will most likely carry on his lack of knowledge.
I recently heard a comedian talking about time travel. He said if he was sent back in time to the early 1900s, he could tell everyone about all of the incredible things that exist today, but he couldn’t tell anybody how it works. He concluded, “I have no idea how any of this stuff works. I’d be completely useless if I went back in time.”
If you know of any young people contemplating a career path after high school, you may want to encourage them to go to a technical school to learn the trades. According to what I am hearing from local employers, the opportunities are abound.