I recently watched an interview with Mike Rowe that I wish I had seen 5 years ago. As the host of “Dirty Jobs”, Rowe learned a lot about the American job market & economy. Most often he mentions how much happier and more fulfilled people in the who work ‘dirty jobs’ are, not because they followed their passion, but because they learned to love the work they did every day.
I know a lot of this doesn’t apply to developing markets, where educated and skilled labour is still in shortage, but in many developed countries there is now a skills gap. Rates of unemployment and job growth are disproportionate; while more people enter the job market only after completing a University degree, the jobs being created are more focused around manual labour.
There is a mentality that the only way to wealth & to progress for those coming out of high school, is through University. Our parents worked hard, so that we could go to University and lead better lives than they did. The problem is, these days, a Bachelor’s degree isn’t special anymore. Moreover, the cost of education is rising at an unbelievable rate, and students are continuously drowning themselves in piles of debt, just to get a degree, no matter the consequences.
I was incredibly fortunate. I was able to study at a relatively cheap, yet reputable University, and graduated with no debt thanks to my parents. I have never taken this position and advantage for granted. But had I known better 5 years ago, I would have let my parents keep their money, paid less than half the price of my University, and researched the skills gap to find a job in a industry where people actually NEED workers. I would have chosen a career where I didn’t have to worry about job security. I went to University for status, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted, and because I was told it was “the only way forward”. Hindsight is 20/20, I don’t resent the hand I was dealt nor the choices I made, but I can learn, study, and research to make the best with what I have now.
What I really want is to end this mentality that University is the “only path forward”. That it is the only way into prestige, status and wealth. Even if you ARE in a developing country the manual labour industry still provides immense opportunities for growth, development, and entrepreneurship. I realize I may sound incredibly patronizing with all of this, but I am simply saying what I wish someone had told me when I was still in high school. University is NOT the only option.