Phil Rosen: "We should advocate for trade schools just as much as college, especially after a pandemic"

Completely agree.
As a former HS teacher, I saw too many students that were being force-fit into college/academics – by their parents, by staying in classes with their friends, and by what the school offered (fewer ‘trades’ classes).
And high schools jumped on the band wagon – getting rid of automotive, shop, home ec, and arts classes. Everything was about college, and bragging about college (students, parents, school).
The vo-tech high schools near me have come a long way, and a number of the students who attend still opt for college afterwards, but they can also do a trade. The problem is – there aren’t enough spots to accommodate them. Regular schools need more shop-type classes.
Also - a number of badly-behaved students would probably do better at the vo-tech school, but sadly, won’t get accepted because of bad behavior.
It’s been a real disservice to many students.

Considering what plumbers, electricians, mechanics, pipe fitters, welders, etc., earn, then yes, vo-trade schools needs to be celebrated and encouraged.


Yesterday I had a Sheet Metals Workers union official in as a patient. They have been short workers for these nice-paying jobs for quite a while.

She said they are going into high schools and convincing young people NOT to go to colleges, but instead to become apprentices. They do a financial comparison showing how much time the college debt will take to pay off, and the value of the oppotunity cost of parking one’s arse in college for 4 years instead of working.

But to be fair, but of the problem was liability associated with letting students do things that could potentially cause serious injuries. Plus making sure tools did not walk out of the classroom.

No-- at my school, the justification for getting rid of “hands-on” classes was all about bragging about college acceptance rates, plus viewing certain elective classes as “outdated” – hence they got rid of automotive, shop, and home ec-type classes. The school valued only “college prep” and sports. Nothing else. Administrators were all former coaches. A few electives have emerged since, but only if they involve computers.

I think some academic kids could use some hands-on, practical classes (they can memorize for a test but can’t put a plastic nut and bolt together without breaking it. True, from my lab classes. Very clumsy and careless, many of them).

One of the Sheet Metal Union’s gripe is that schools are rewarded for the percentage of students that go to college. Trade schools don’t count. This is true in Georgia. Not sure if other states are the same.

Years ago, I was the production manager of a large mfg plant that assembled many small parts into large products. I was angry at the low caliber of applicants HR had cleared for work. Their resumes claimed all kinds of mechanical work but I could watch them for fifteen seconds and easily see they had no idea how to work with tools.

So, I made two alum plates about six by six inches with a variety of matching holes. There was a pan with various bolts and nuts along with different size wrenches. The applicant was too attach the plates using which bolt fit the holes.

I was sent three applicants. One easily passed my simple test but the other two failed miserably. I sent them back to HR and called the rep, explaining they are not qualified.

The rep was furious! "They’ve only been in plant a half hour!’

“Does not take me long to see someone with NO mechanical skills”.

She complained to the general manager which prompted several loud meetings. In the end, I lost. I was not allowed to create a test without HR’s approval. The rep said she did NOT approve and would NEVER approve.

The GM wanted to agree with me but his hands were tied. Only HR can test or qualify applicants. Grrrrrrrr.

I inherited a lot of losers…


An HR person told me that any company of more than 50 employees MUST submit ANY employment test to the EEOC for approval. Your HR department probably did not want to go through that hassle for your simple test. And they were too scared of EEOC sanctions if you performed the test without getting EEOC approval.

Yes, boys and girls, our federal government has become that powerful!

That’s probably why our HR dept had NO test of any kind. She believed everything the applicant said or wrote.

“You have two years of mechanical experience?”
“Okay, next question.”

We came to a compromise [she reluctantly agreed] that I had full access to the applications. A common answer was they worked at a gas station for x years"

I wanted to know which gas station because the vast majority have no garage, and just pump gas and sell merchandise.

I was able to filter out several before they were hired.

[HR did not speak to me for a long time]

I am all for advocating for trade schools, but I think, as a society, we also need to advocate for thoroughly doing your research before making ANY choices about your education or career.

I have no doubt that some college degrees aren’t worth what they cost, but I also feel like we need to be honest that not every trade job will lead to a six-figure income and that there are a LOT of scumbags that will abuse the apprenticeship system to exploit your labor.

Basically, I feel like we need to stop with the notion that there’s any one path that’s a total guarantee of success whether that’s a four year college or a trade school.


The EEOC doesn’t give a rats basotch about skill levels and what a test might measure regarding job requirements. They exist because discrimination based on age, race, gender, ethnicity and lifestyles exist. Here’s the list:

Of course, it is impossible for any bureaucrat to tell the factors and employer considered in making the decision to hire or not hire an applicant, but it is a useful political tool to have. After all, ‘diversity’ is more important than job skills.

Would teaching trades in Junior College be a solution.

Not quite the same, but I took a course in C++ programing at a 2 year College after retiring. In GA Junior Colleges are Free, paid for by the Lottery Funding.

At least they had a degree in basket weaving

If you toss out all but the essential skills required in a specific job, the best fit might be a 10-year-old child. Then we could all rest easy knowing that the welfare of our society lies in the scruples of for-profit business owners.

But that plan was tried in the past and some liberal bleeding heart types objected. And that’s why you are stuck with those nasty guys from the EEOC and their silly rules… :slightly_smiling_face:

What on earth does child labor have to do with the Feds interfering in legitimate job qualification tests?

I was responding to your general distaste of any Federal regulation. The Feds (DOL through the FLSA in this case) enforce child labor laws. What do you think would happen if we had no laws regulating child labor?

Not a thing. Incidentally, child labor in the US still exists in family farms and family run businesses. I had to bush-hog and fight kudzu on our family farm as a child.

Child labor only exists in poor countries where productivity is very low. Because children are not that productive, and there is a smaller need for untrained manual labor.

I am intimately acquainted with familial child labor, I worked at various jobs starting at 10 years old and between ages 10 and 14 my wages were given directly to my family. I’m also married to a potato farmers daughter.

Your facts, as well as your reasoning are wrong. Child labor exists in our country today. And, many children have characteristics like size, cost, naivete and irresponsible uncaring parents that make them attractive workers. Here’s a recent example of the exploitation of children as laborers in the meat packing industry: