Over past decades, high schools across the country have increasingly pushed students toward a four-year degree, discrediting the value of trade schools, apprenticeships, and other paths for blue collar job training. Meanwhile, college debt continues to skyrocket, and for those who actually graduate, that diploma is less likely than ever to provide a guaranteed job.
With 91 percent of millennials struggling to find employment after graduation, President Trump’s efforts to support America’s blue collar workers creates a huge opportunity for millennials.
According to the Bureau of Labor, the U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February, yet millennials say they are struggling to find work. This is because blue collar jobs have received a bad rap, particularly with the younger demographic. Caroline Ghosn, Founder & CEO of Levo, argues that millennials have avoided blue collar jobs because of the media’s focus on the technology industry.
However, blue collar careers can offer impressive salaries that are as much as $15,000 higher than the national average, as well as job security and better benefits than white collar jobs. As Forbes notes, “Right now, there’s a high demand for semiskilled workers in the U.S., and not enough people to satisfy it.”
One prime example is the carpentry trade. The Department of Labor has projected growth for this trade alone to be at 24 percent through 2022, offering an average wage of almost $90,000 per year. If you’re worried about losing a thumb in a circular saw, do not fret. By the end of 2017, around 600 other semi-skilled professions could reach a growth rate of 5 percent or more. Of the top 11 fastest growing professions in the United States, only three require a bachelor’s degree.
Of course, it helps to have a President who is fighting for the American worker.
In a way unlike those before him, the POTUS connected with blue collar workers throughout his campaign, promising to scrap and/or renegotiate bad trade deals, to keep factories from leaving the country and to end illegal immigration. This was an important factor in his election victories in industrialized states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and will remain one in 2020.
In practice, Trump has stayed true to his promises. In his first 30 days, he withdrew the U.S. from the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), announced his intent to re-open negotiations of NAFTA, met with American business executives about keeping factories in America, enhanced border security and announced his Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. Most recently, the President’s green-lighting of the long-delayed Keystone XL Pipeline on Friday is set to create thousands of well-paying blue collar jobs.
Moreover, the Trump administration has a keen interest in promoting apprenticeships. While no specific programs have emerged as of yet, the President was clearly impressed by the success of German apprenticeships in his conversation with Angela Merkel and expressed support to create five million apprenticeships in the next five years when he spoke with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Nowadays, the ROI for apprenticeships can often surpass that of a four-year degree and generate more job opportunities.
In Trump’s economy, millennials might be best served joining the ranks of blue collar workers and ditching that gender studies degree. If the President is successful, the world of academia may be forced to change course and do what it’s supposed to do all along: prepare students for careers.