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Blue Collar Jobs Ripe For Picking

Susan Notes: This is both Good News and Outrage of the Day. The Good News is that these good jobs are out there. The Outrage is that Standardista rhetoric continues to force all students into a college prep program, thereby ensuring that many students will never get a high school diploma.

As I've documented on this website--and reported in Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools? (Heinemann), the Massachusetts oppressive graduation requirements have decimated successful and popular vocational programs.

How long will it take for the media to match up the disconnect between Standardista school policy and the workforce needs of the market?

Blue Collar and Proud of It


Joe LaMacchia, who runs a landscaping company near Boston, says he knows where the jobs are before the experts do.

"I ran an ad for a mason, and I got one call, and it was four weeks," says LaMacchia.

And, according to LaMacchia, what America needs now are more skilled, hands- on blue-collar workers that he'd gladly pay $50,000 for ten months work.

"We work out all day, there's a great paycheck, there's steady work .. a great life," says LaMacchia.

In fact, as CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports, LaMacchia has it exactly right. The Labor Department predicts 2.5 million new skilled trade workers will be needed over the next 8 years.

The main reason for the blue collar comeback is the aging of America. Because the baby boomers are retiring, huge worker shortages are developing now in auto repair, health care, construction and all of the skilled trades, starting with electricians.

Electricians see such a worker crisis, the electrical unions are actually paying apprentices to learn the trade. Todd Charron traded in a career in TV production to become an electrician.

Does he have any regrets about giving up his career?

"Yeah, the only regret is that I didn't do this sooner," says Charron.

But you can't fill these blue collar jobs with just a high school degree. Workers seeking job skills are suddenly flooding the nation's community colleges. In fact, students working on a two-year degree in auto repair are routinely grabbed after just one year in training.

"We can't keep enough students in the pipeline to keep employers satisfied," says Dr. Robert Templin, president of Northern Virginia Communtiy College.

Templin says just look at the wait lists for their training programs, like auto collision repair, which has a months-long waiting list. The building and construction programs are full and nursing has a two-year wait.

"There's a lot of jobs out there, and they're great jobs," says LaMacchia.

LaMacchia has even started a Web site hoping to convince high school students that four years of college isn't the only path to dignified work and financial success.

The site is called Blue Collar and Proud Of It, "because not everybody is cut out to sit in a cubicle or to be on the phone."

For 50 years the "go to college" message has ruled in America. But the Earth is moving in the labor market and red-hot demand for blue collar workers is projected for the next thirty years.

— Wyatt Andrews, CBS News correspondentl
CBS News


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