Skilled decisions

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st. clair college thames campus

It is in a parent’s nature to want the very best for their children, particularly when it comes to an education.

A university-level education has been the gold standard for many years; the higher rated the university, the better.

These days, parents are paying an arm and leg for higher education, only to, in some cases, have a graduate with no hope of finding a job in his or her field of study.

We encourage our kids to follow their dreams, but when those dreams don’t lead to steady employment, are we really doing them any favours?

The announcement Monday regarding funding for a National Powerline Training Centre at St. Clair College Thames Campus in Chatham is a case in point. Industry is crying for skilled trades workers as an aging population retires with not enough young men and woman to fill the gap.

Industrial, electrical and construction trades are hands-on, high-paying skilled trades jobs, and our local businesses and industries can’t produce their products and prosper without them.

We don’t hear too often parents encouraging their kids to go into “blue collar” professions, for any number of reasons, including the mistaken belief that all those jobs are low paying.

With technology advancing faster than we can keep up, technicians that can work with and fix modern infrastructure and machinery are in high demand, and these jobs require people that are smart and have hands-on skills. Robotics and computerization used in industry are high-tech and require knowledge and skills you usually can’t get in a university lecture hall.

Apprenticeships, work placements, and internships are all important to not only knowing what something is, but knowing how it works, with the time and skilled supervision to teach hands-on. Students get to re-build an engine, set up an electrical panel, work on powerlines, fix a robotic part or build a home from the ground up.

Not everyone is cut out for skilled trades, but by the same token, not everyone is cut out for the world of academia. Our society needs both to function. The engineers design it and skilled trades build it.

Now if we could convince our young men and woman to look at all the options when making a career choice, we may have the skilled workforce we need to move ahead to future. The government is finally putting money into skilled trades innovations and now it’s our turn to make good use of it.

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