One area the US is failing in is training our youth for manufacturing jobs – jobs which are becoming more scarce as manufacturing has moved overseas. Cheap labor is one reason. Lack of flexibility -partially tied to union intransigence is another. The perceived lower status of blue collar workers is another. Let’s face it, to most coastal liberals, working with your hands and sweating is acceptable only if you are an artist or doing Pilates/yoga. A degree in sociology or gender studies somehow is more valuable than becoming a tradesman.
While not an big NPR fan, this article on Germany’s apprentice program is something to consider. Our schools have cut back of our traditional programs to focus only on those who are college bound. That isn’t to say that a strong basic education isn’t important. The article points out that thousands of apprentice slots go unfilled because students (many immigrants) aren’t learning the basics needed for manufacturing that is becoming increasingly more technical.
So. How to end the cycle of dying cities where young men see no future? Not sure. Funneling billions to politically connected energy startups isn’t the way. Why not prepare some – those who honestly want to work – for jobs in a factory. Train them from the ground up. That means sweeping floors. Cleaning machines. Watching the operation. Start slow. Pay them a small salary – not union scale – minimum wage. Don’t even let them join a union.
It works for the military.