Rising Cry For Vocational Education

I’ve been seeing a rising tide of cries for people to forget about college or university education and instead seek training for trade schools, such as carpentry, construction, welding, etc.

Many of those endorsing this claim to be Progressives. In truth, they tend to be centrist Establishment neoliberals. Ones who oppose universal adult education and want to maintain the status quo.

The time for trade schools is long past. At least for anyone who is realistic.

Millions of jobs over many decades have been mechanized and automated. Auto workers, machinists, print setters, wood working, highway construction among these jobs. Technological advancements have reduced labor jobs. Plastics and synthetics have replaced wooden floors, furniture, cabinets, etc. We are now seeing 3D printed buildings with lab experiments to 3D print skyscrapers utilizing carbon nanotubules by robotic construction machines. Autonomous vehicles are being worked on furiously by multiple competing companies. Once developed, they will eliminate millions of jobs, from low to living wage. Some autonomous vehicles are already being tested on highways at this very moment. How much effort do you think it will take to develop robots to do new welding for major projects? Or oil well drilling? Laying building foundations?

This is the future we are facing right now.

One of the biggest advantages to a college/university education is being taught critical thinking skills. In other words, being taught how to think, how to be unafraid of asking valid questions, challenge the established narrative. Of course, this is a large reason higher education is being priced out of the affordable range of lower income people, leaving them relegated to low wage, “unskilled” jobs. Forever.

Then those jobs are being eliminated on a daily basis. Telephone operators, customer service agents (dial “1” to eliminate another worker’s income), file clerks, bank tellers, toll booth operators, cashiers. Even movie projectionist is a job which no longer exists. Walk through your local theater and you will instead see a room full of computer servers. Work is progressing to replace fast food cooks with robots. How long do you think it will be before your pizza delivery arrives by drone?

It’s not only labor jobs being replaced in many cases. Computer software has long replaced a huge percentage of many professions. You don’t need a lawyer or paralegal to write your will. Get a program for a fraction of the cost, write your own will and have it notarized. Same with articles of incorporation of your business. Accountants. Proof readers. Traffic cameras take your picture running a light and send you a ticket with no human input required.

Scream and cry about immigrants all you like. Immigrants did not take these jobs away from you. Complain about these jobs being exported. In some cases, those jobs aren’t even filled by human beings in other countries but more machines.

Translation: Those jobs are never coming back.

Which brings up another aspect of the argument some people use in favor of trade schools. Some wish to claim that these trades are secure, will always be with us, that they provide a future. Problem is, with so many other jobs ceasing to exist, it means there are fewer consumers who can afford to pay the people in those trades. That alone will reduce the number of jobs in the trades which will provide a living wage for the few jobs that remain. Then the positions will have so many applicants that it will drive wages down further.

Simply put, if you think trade/vocational schools or apprenticeships will provide a future, you’re sadly mistaken. I’m afraid that belief is a sign that either you are highly privileged, your opinions are decades out of date and/or you really should have paid more attention in college, yourself. We are living in very different times.

Now, look more closely at Universal Basic Income.

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