Educational Reform: Should More Students Skip College In Favor of Skilled Trades & Vocational Training?



As it stands today, America ranks 115th (of a possible 200 countries) in terms of linguistic diversity:

In 2015, America ranked 20th in the world for academic Math and 27th in the world for Science:

According to the ACT testing agency, it is estimated that 76% of all high school students are unprepared for college level course work upon graduation:

As a result, American Universities rank 20th (of 40 total countries) in terms of secondary education (college/university) testing averages:

On top of all these condemning academic statistics, the average college student in America graduates with $29,000 in student loan debt:

Additionally, the unemployment rate for the age demographic belonging specifically to college graduates, fluctuates between 24%-30% on a yearly basis. This is more than 10% higher than the unemployment rate for society as a whole:

It has been ingrained into the brains of young Americans that everyone must go to college—that in order to succeed in life, you need to have a college education. But, as you can see from the statistics above, is this really the narrative we need to be teaching young people? Is blindly sending every student in America to college—into immediate debt—the best path for the individual person or for the economic and the longevity of this nation?

Here are some facts to consider: some of the most high paying jobs in society are skilled labor jobs. Skilled labor is always in demand because these positions are not traditionally perceived as “sexy” within society, and require very specific training to obtain. Some examples of skilled labor jobs include carpenter, electrician, plumber et cetera.

Average Pay For Popular Skilled Labor Professions

  • HVAC Service Technician: 20-30$/hr
  • Auto-body Repair Technician: 20-35/hr
  • Carpenter: 20-40$/hr
  • Electrician: 45-65/hr
  • Dump Truck Owner: +55/hr
  • Plumber: 55-85$/hr
  • Propane Furnace Technician: +85$/hr
  • Septic System Maintenance: +110$/hr

As with any profession, the more talent and experience you have in any given field, the more you can charge. It should also be noted that people who go on to open their own businesses, tend to make much more money per hour than those who work for an employer. In addition, the tuition fee for a technical or trade school will, in most cases, be a fraction of the cost of a traditional 4 year University course. So, not only do people tend to make more in money in skilled professions when they come straight out of school, but at the same, it costs significantly less to gain the necessary skills to enter into a career path.

If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy “Facing Skepticism, Colleges Set Out To Prove Their Value”:


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  1. I am a Roofer/ Carpenter in southeast Alaska and have been for 7 years. I fully agree with this. For a short time my senior year and after graduation I was berated by friends and family by not having any plans for school. I chose to fish and then got a job with Alaska power and telephone installing satellite tv. I had helped my family do some remodel with here and there, and then started looking for training courses. The Alaska job centers and other programs are dedicated to providing free training options. I chased this and attended two short construction academies (not so extravagant as it sounds) parted out for classrooms borrowed from the university of Alaska southeast, and other building warehouses. I truly believe that the collegiate system is a scam I know people who have worked hard to gain their degrees and they work at groceries stores or as bank tellers. I think the main thing is to propagate the facts for the up and coming youngsters. I have even wanted to go to my home town, Petersburg, Alaska, and do some out reach, it is a fishing town so the people are raised hardy and I think a presentation on the trades would do well in high school, we just need more of them. Thanks for your time and dedicated work.


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