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Val123's avatar

Do you think the schools should make some blue-collar skills classes manditory?

Asked by Val123 (12679points) February 18th, 2010

Schools seem to teach under the assumption that every kid is going to go on to be a white collar super-professional, when the fact is, most of them will go to work in factories and other honorable, hardworking, hands-on capacities—yet the the kids graduate without the basic understandings of these jobs.

What are some classes you would suggest should be mandatory, at least for one semester, for the kids?

Some examples:
Welding
Hairdressing
Plumbing

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47 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

I agree on the mandatory job education, if only the jobs were available.

Blackberry's avatar

You are definitely right. I wish I had taken classes on basic construction and housework and working with tools and powertools to make things like furniture and shelves and being able to repair things.

aprilsimnel's avatar

At my middle school, wood, metal and electrical shop were mandatory for all students, male and female. In high school, if the blue collar vocations were an interest, there were special city-wide schools where those were the focus, along with the other mandatory subject units needed to graduate.

davidbetterman's avatar

It doesn’t matter any longer. All the work is being outsourced to China… American’s have the crappiest owner/employers in the world.
You will soon be moving to China if you can’t find employment in the States.

Val123's avatar

@john65pennington There are lots and lots of ads for blue collar jobs out there.

philosopher's avatar

That is a good idea. American’s should maintain the ability to produce and manufacture things. We are losing this important skill.

Val123's avatar

@philosopher I don’t think we’re losing it….there are people out there who will have the opportunity to learn the skills, but it would be nice if everyone had at least the basic understanding of the skills to at least get them in the door of good-paying, entry level positions.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Isnt this what tech schools are for?

john65pennington's avatar

2nd Answer: great question and i only hope that the economy is much better, in the future, for your blue collar job to be waiting for you. a big yes to your question. schools should be teaching students a trade, in addition to their regular education.

Val123, i give you a great question reward. john

ragingloli's avatar

It is not that they assume that everyone will enroll in university, but about providing them the intellectual tools necessary for such a carreer if they choose to. Manual skills can be acquired in professional training in a professional business environment much more efficiently, than in school where at most you get 90 minute sessions at a time and where you forget what you learned last week. And think of the cost of all the equipment you would have to buy. Your education system is already underfunded.
All the training in manual jobs can and should be done by either specialised technical schools or in apprenticeships run by businesses or a mix of both, with financial assistance for the trainees provided by the state and with qualifications tested according to national standards set by a central agency leading to a degree that is valid and can be used anywhere in the country.

Val123's avatar

@raginglili I believe all of the schools already have the equipment. It’s just not mandatory that all the kids learn how to use them, and it should be. Yes, you may only get 90 minutes at a time, but you get that hour and a half for 5 days a week for 4 months. That’s like saying, since you only learn about math in that same time frame, you’re not really going to learn it.

Also, to your point “but about providing them the intellectual tools necessary for such a career if they choose to”—Of course. The thing is, kids should graduate with the basic tools they might need for ANY career, especially since most of them probably will never graduate from college. Most of them will be moving into blue collar fields, so those skill should be a priority too.

poisonedantidote's avatar

here in spain they have the option now do study other skills, such as electrician or plumber.

these days, everyone wants to work in media or an office, no one really wants to be a construction worker or plumber or machine operator. there is quite a shortage of people doing these jobs. so much so, that here on my little island, a lawyer or bank manager cant even aspire to earn what a plumber earns, some of them must be on at least 6 digits judging by the cars and houses they have. so yea, im all in favor of it. give them the choice to learn these skills or even make it mandatory.

ragingloli's avatar

@Val123
It is easier to teach intellectual knowledge to kids than it is to adults, while practical skills are much easier to acquire even at an old age.Intellectial knowledge is also much more basic and broad. Maths can be used in many fields, physics, engineering, banking, economics, etc. chemistry can be used in biology, chemical industry, medicine, bioengineering, physics is useful in biology, engineering. Learning how to use a drill gives you just that. Knowing how to use a drill. That is why schools should concentrate on the Intellectual part.
And no, I do not think even a substantial number of schools have the equipment (different kinds of drills, including the heavy and big ones, hydraulic presses, plasma cutters, blowtorches, chainsaws, buzz saws, nail guns, high voltage electrical eqipment, etc.) You would have to supply every school with all the equipment of the entire industry. The costs would be astronomic and the outcome less than average. Not to mention that I would not want my children anywhere near this dangerous equipment unless they have already chosen to pursue a carreer that requires the use of it. Children and dangerous equipment are a really bad mix.

Cruiser's avatar

Our schools offer all the trade classes kids could want as electives. Making a trade skills course mandatory would be a great waste of precious resources. What we should remain focused on are mandatory academic classes that at least keep our kids on par with what other countries are currently providing for their kids. US student grades are lagging behind the level of academics in other countries and we will soon be eclipsed by our ability to innovate new technologies and services if we don’t remain focused on the basics. Reading, writing and math skills are crucial for even tradesmen to have to know in order to learn their trades. Just my opinion

Val123's avatar

@ragingloli This is not an “either/or” issue. I’m saying that basic blue collar skills need to be manditory in addition to all of the intellecutal education.

It’s also not an issue of ability to learn. It’s an issue of why are the kids in school in the first place? To learn the skills necessary to be productive citizens in society as adults.

Case in point. My daughter is looking desperately for a job. There was a position open for a welder. She’s going to apply for it, although she doesn’t know how to weld. If she’d had ONE semester of welding,she’d have an in. But she didn’t, so there is no way she’ll get the job. The only way for her to gain such skills now is to enroll in a trade school. However it would mean 1) Traveling 120 miles round trip to attend classes and 2) coming up with money to pay for the classes, not to mention gas. And a babysitter. Money she does not have.

@Cruiser I agree that “Reading, writing and math skills are crucial”—for everyone. I’m not saying those should be replaced with anything. I’m just saying that the kids should be required to take at least one semester of some sort of trade skill. Honestly…the most lucrative skill I learned was…..typing. I have had so many doors opened to me simply because I can really type. Of course, that skill would be worthless if I couldn’t read or write. But after the basics, some sort of trade should be mandatory. Not all of our kids are going to be rocket scientists. Most of them aren’t going to be.

ragingloli's avatar

@Val123
Then your society should encourage/pressure businesses into offering more apprenticeships and pressure your government into providing financial assistance to those who need it. The public already provides them with people who have academic skills, it provides police, fire departments, traffic, water, electrical and waste infrastructure, basic and specialised research they can use in their products and now the public is also supposed to provide the industry with taypayer funded trained workers so they don’t have to train them themselves. Somehow I do not think this is how it should be.

iphigeneia's avatar

90 minutes a day, 5 days a week? There is no way that would fit in with any school timetable. The problem is that these skills are so specialised, whereas the lessons learned in academic subjects such as maths, English, social sciences, foreign languages, physical sciences, etc. can be applied to a wide range of careers.

I know my own education probably gives me a different perspective on the world, and I’m going by Australian-specific statistics here, but ‘most’ people won’t end up in blue-collar jobs anyway. The services sector is growing rapidly, particularly in areas that relate to the collecting and sharing of information. There are a lot more health-related jobs required for an aging population, many of which don’t involve specialist training. That means that people these days are more likely to need to go into retail, IT, healthcare, hospitality, finance, etc.

Val123's avatar

Well, @ragingloli, by that reasoning, perhaps we should do away with schools altogether and after the kids are grown toss them out and tell them to train themselves to read and write.

@iphigeneia How is welding any more specialized than math? Or plumbing? Or automotive repair? Most of the schools have electives in those very things. Why not make at least one semester of those that are currently electives, manditory.

Also. Please listen. I understand that “English, social sciences, foreign languages, physical sciences, etc. can be applied to a wide range of careers.” People keep saying that as if I am suggesting that those mandatory classes be done away with. I’m not! So that argument is completely beside the point and has nothing to do with anything.

ragingloli's avatar

@Val123
No. By that reasoning we should make the industry honour to their duties to society and not do everything for them. Basic academic training in school serves primarily the pupils. Specialised training in manual labour primarily serves the bottom line of the industry.

CMaz's avatar

Yes, along with brain surgery.

Val123's avatar

@ragingloli Oh. I see where you’re coming from. It serves the losers who are actually making the products that you benefit from, therefore it has no value. Gotcha. Tell that to your mechanic next time you take your car in for repair.

@ChazMaz Pfffft!! You know what I mean! They have everything they need in the schools already. Just make some of it mandatory.

CMaz's avatar

@Val123 – I am with you.

Business management, good investment practices and conservative thinking.

Welding
Hairdressing
Plumbing

We use to have those. It was called shop. Ok, not hair dressing.

Problem is you do not want to create liability. Leave that for the tech schools ore the Jr. Colleges.

Val123's avatar

@ChazMaz Exactly. Shop. Should be mandatory for everyone for at least one semester. Thank you.

CMaz's avatar

Shop was mandatory as was Gym (PE)

But everyone got fat and lazy.

No disrespect to my fat and lazy friends. :-)

iphigeneia's avatar

@Val123 I understand that you don’t want to get rid of these classes, but adding in another compulsory subject means you don’t have as much time for them. And you may have a point about the maths thing, I enjoyed it myself but one year on I don’t remember a thing (well, kind of, but you just try to replace maths for a semester…)!

Do you propose fitting all of welding, plumbing, automotive repair, hair dressing, cabinet making, etc. into one semester? Because if you want students to get some actual skills, rather than just a taste for a specific trade, they will need a lot of time for that, and there are a lot of trades to choose from. I think it’s wonderful that they’re available as electives in many schools—they certainly weren’t at my school—but if you want to make it mandatory, it’s important to decide whether it’s to teach students life skills (in which case, which ones?) or to set them up for a career (which I’ve already covered).

Val123's avatar

@ChazMaz Sniffs. When I was in HS girls who wanted to take shop were strongly discouraged from doing so.

@iphigeneia Of course not. Make a list of whatever skill and the kids get to choose, but they have to chose one.

As per “actual skills,” well….kids get the basics in math, but not necessarily advanced skills, like calculus unless they want to. But the have to have the basic understanding. Same with the things I’m talking about. Welding isn’t all that hard to do, if you know how to do it. The basics of auto mechanics can easily be taught in a semester. Does that mean you’re ready to go out and build a custom race car engine? No. But it could get you an entry level position as a mechanic, whereupon you learn more and more about the trade.

They need to be taught the basics of both life skills and the basics of a career.

iphigeneia's avatar

Well, that makes more sense now, I got a bit thrown by the ‘classes’ part in the description (yeah I know, it’s time to wake up and I haven’t been to sleep yet…)

I do have reservations about whether schools can afford to provide such a range of courses and cater for all students unless they linked themselves with a training institution, there’s an idea! but I do agree that shop should be compulsory, at least a little bit, and for the ones who are old enough to work with the tools, but not yet at that stage where they’ve already decided whether to go the trades route or the academic route.

The only problem with taking on a specific trade for a semester is, that if a person chooses a trade and doesn’t like it, they won’t have a chance of getting a job in a different trade because they will be competing against others who have studied that different trade in school. Therefore, they will have to go and get the skills after they have graduated, which is kind of like having chosen not to do the trade as an elective in the current scheme.

Val123's avatar

@iphigeneia All of the schools already have shop classes in place. However, the students have to buy their own materials for whatever project.

Cruiser's avatar

@Val123 I hear what you are saying but the “average” high school graduate these days have marginal grammar and mathematical skills hardly suitable for gainful employment or a secondary education. So either they go to college and struggle with a higher education or go to trade school and struggle with the math and writing requirements there. Adding in a mandatory trade class would only serve to further water down the basic academic skill set of these average or below average students. If a kid desires trade skills they have every opportunity to take home ec., autos, wood shop etc.

Val123's avatar

Well, once of the purposes of school, in my opinion, is to introduce kids to new things that they don’t even know they might be interested in. (The “boring books in school” question comes to mind.) Perhaps a female is stuck with this stereotype that girls aren’t any good at mechanics, but she had to take a class and finds out not only is she very good at it, but actually likes it! So instead of becoming a hair dresses, she becomes an auto mechanic (and makes more money, too.)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I hear talk of readin’ skills being helpful ;)

PacificToast's avatar

They shouldn’t have to be mandatory. The students that want a white collar professional job will study to achieve that goal. Students that do not wish to have a white collar professional job have the choice to go to a tech school for just that reason. In other words, it’s already figured out, it just needs to be fulfilled more. Perhaps students striving for white collar jobs are not the best at that? They could put those efforts towards something God has given them the talent to do. The problem is, that the perception is that a white collar job will make you rich and happy, when in reality, money isn’t happiness.

Val123's avatar

That’s just it…most MS and HS kids have no idea what they might want to do after school. But that doesn’t stop us from giving them almost all the skills they’ll need to eventually make a decision.

philosopher's avatar

@Val123
I wish I believed you were right. We use make computers in America; we no longer do. We use to make cell phones too. We still create technology. We still have companies like Microsoft but countries like China would like to obtain all our technology. By any means and already have.
It has become difficult to find furniture or clothes made in America. How many toys are made here?
It is time we bring back manufacturing before it is all gone for good.

Val123's avatar

But there are some things that can’t be outsourced, such as a car mechanic, and others.

mattbrowne's avatar

German schools do. They prepare students for blue-collar and/or white-collar careers. To me this makes total sense. I’ve got to admit the only blue-collar course I took was cooking in 7th grade. There was just one other guy but plenty of girls.

My parents recommended that I should learn more than just math and physics and got me a job helping a public water supply workman. Till then I knew about acetylene carbon-carbon triple bonds from my chemistry classes, but it was quite enlightening to see the stuff in action. I was very proud when he allowed me to do some small welding jobs.

Yes, blue-collar skills should be taught at school.

philosopher's avatar

@Val123
There are some wealthy people that would like to find away to outsource mechanic jobs too.
These are the same people that think it fine if CE O’s and Stock Brokers get unprecedented bonuses; and other people lose their jobs,homes and everything they own.

Val123's avatar

@philosopher Nobody is going to take their car to Mexico for an oil change!

philosopher's avatar

@Val123
I don’t want one more job resourced out.
I would not put anything past some of the wealthy oil people in this country. They bought the electric car technology. They will do anything to maintain their power; at the expense of the rest of us.
They would have something removable designed that could be filled up and put back in.
Laugh if you like they want to keep us all down and remain in power.

Val123's avatar

@philosopher OK, and what does this have to do with shop class in high school?

philosopher's avatar

@Val123
More than most people realize.
Learning begins in class.

CMaz's avatar

And please and thank you are magic words.

Just a thing that was on the cafeteria door in my elementary school. I never forgot it.

Val123's avatar

Dang, @ChazMaz I was never taught that in school! What a failure our school system is, when they don’t cover for the parents lack of parenting.

thriftymaid's avatar

No, but it’s great if they are offered as electives.

lazydaisy's avatar

I do. At least in some kind of ‘life skills’ class.
I wish I had learned some basic automotive stuff in school.

Just basic ‘how to live in the world without your parents handling it’ kinds of stuff.

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