THE BLOG
06/22/2012 09:14 am ET Updated Aug 22, 2012

The Pretentious Public

For the past 50 years, the general trend among the middle class has been along the lines of the following. A teen would go to high school, then college and then graduate school if they wanted to become a lawyer or doctor, for example. Well, things have changed.

Let's look at law, for example. Dewey & LeBoeuf, a law firm with over 1,000 lawyers and 26 offices worldwide, has just recently filed for bankruptcy. A 103-year-old firm went out of business just like that. So what does the litigation field look like now? Well, if you're a recent law school graduate, things don't look so promising. If finding a job in this economy wasn't hard enough, you now have the added competition of veteran lawyers with years of experience. If you're an HR staffer at a law firm, it's a no-brainer. You're now able to get a well-seasoned lawyer with years of experience and sometimes, they come at less than retail price. So, if you're a high school student thinking about getting into law, simply open the front page of the New York Times or the Huffington Post and you'll see that law doesn't look so promising. Same can be said for the medical field. With med school alone taking you into $200,000 of debt and malpractice insurance usually costing around the same, the notion that being a doctor is lucrative doesn't hold the same weight anymore. Now, there are advantages to being a doctor. People will always be sick and they'll always need doctors to treat them. For lawyers, however, there is simply a glut of them, which has lead them to seek other careers -- such as baristas and bus drivers. It's an unfortunate reality. The white-collar professions just don't got "it" anymore. This is not to say that no one should become a doctor or a lawyer. But people need to recognize that these jobs just don't maintain the same sense of security they used to have.

Blue-collar professions, however, are professions that are gold waiting for the taking. As the situation stands now, America has lost its manufacturing prowess. All one has to do is drive through Michigan or the rust belt to see that things have changed. With labor costs being cheaper in foreign lands, we just aren't going to see those jobs come back. But what people seem to forget is the other side of the blue-collar job field. The service jobs field -- jobs vital to our everyday lives -- is experiencing a drought in available workers. Plumbers, electricians and carpenters are just some of the vital professions of which our country is in short supply. Why? Because in today's society, some people live with the notion that such professions are beneath them and that they don't pay well. That couldn't be further from the truth. The aforementioned skills are in high demand by companies and local governments who need these skills to help their operations going and are willing to pay for it. We shouldn't keep stressing to kids to have the highest possible GPAs and standardized tests scores and to go to the best universities when there is no guarantee that that investment will pay off. But, if you teach them a trade, you give them a skill that they can use the rest of their life. Think of the possibilities. If you're a doctor, you only have a medical license for the country you're in. A lawyer is only able to practice law in a particular state after passing its bar exam. But, a carpenter? He can practice his skill in Tucson or Taiwan.

School should be a place for kids to learn, not to memorize and stress about exams. College, graduate school and the job market have all gotten so competitive and tenacious. It's like shoving a square peg through a round hole. The world is different now than it was 20 years ago. Everyone is going to college, whether it be in a lecture hall or on a computer. We live in a world dominated by Wal-Mart and Best Buy, with mom-and-pop stores being forced to close. If American leaders want to know why the unemployment rate is so high, it's quite simple. In regards to white-collar jobs, there are too many people for too few professions. But on the blue-collar side, it's quite the opposite. And because of that, this is why our manufacturing base is gone but it doesn't have to be forgotten. Companies such as Apple Inc. have stated that the reason they produce their products in China is because of the lack of trade skills among us Americans. What if that changed? What if we did have the people with the technical know-how? We create the products -- why shouldn't we make them? Now, there are benefits for these companies to produce products in China, but by us taking the initiative, we put them in a precarious position where they have fewer and fewer reasons not the make their goods right here in the USA.

As infuriating as this news may be, we have no choice. We can't sit around while the politicians in Washington keep bickering. We need to act on our own and we can. School districts should introduce more trade school classes so students have a trade straight out of high school. We need to convince businesses to restart their old factories and make their products back at home. Most importantly, we need to convince the American people that there are alternatives. As awkward as it sounds, you don't need to go to graduate school and you don't need that doctorate, especially with today's job market. These are the professions that built up America, literally. They may not be the most glorious of professions but they are professions that are always in demand and always will be.

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