Economists Say Millennials Should Consider Careers In Trades

Chris Arnold, NPR, Feb 18, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I too would recommend people pursue a career in the trades, but I want to add a few caveats that economists aren't yet ready to concede (or so it seems to me). One thing is that we have to reposition trades in society. In many parts of the world - Europe springs to mind - people who work in the trades are respected as professionals, well-paid (often by virtue of their union or trade association) and play a significant role in society. They are well educated and well-rounded, and often partake in creating and enjoying the best of music, art and culture in the society. In North America we have demoted the trades to servants, mostly disbanded their associations and unions, and have been squeezing their pay and benefits to decades. Now we are reaping what we have sown. If I were a millennial I would tell the economists that I need more than just education; I would say that the social contract needs to be renegotiated before I would consider a career in the trades. That said, there is still time, and there is yet money (though it lies in the hands of a very few people and languishes unspent in offshore accounts).

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