IMMIGRATION & LABOR
Our Labor Problems Have Been Decades in the Making
by: Marc Dodson, Editor: Western Roofing Magazine
We've painted ourselves into a corner. For decades, parents and teachers have been pounding the idea into young, impressionable minds that everyone has to go to college, that everyone needs a college education in today's world. This is simply not true. Less than a third of the jobs in the U.S. require some form of higher education. Instead of inspiring more kids to pursue college, we've succeeded in creating a generation of young people who are ashamed to take a job where they work with their hands. We've managed to create a situation where jobs have to be outsourced to countries halfway across the world because no one is willing to do the work in our own country. What we've succeeded in doing is creating a shortage of workers in the construction, restaurant, and hotel industry, among others. Since these jobs can't be outsourced, the workers come across our boarders, legally or illegally, to do the hands-on work that we've conditioned our sons and daughters to avoid like the plague. And we wonder why we have an immigration problem. It's our own doing.
I'm not the first person to make this observation. This rising problem has been talked about for years. Attracting workers into the construction industry has nothing to do with wages. Construction industry jobs are some of the highest paying hourly jobs in the country. Even the local McDonald's has an almost-perpetual sign in the window, seeking employees with a starting pay several dollars higher than the minimum wage. Not bad pay for being able to mumble, "You want fries with that?"
It's not a lack of pay that's turning young people away from the construction industry, rather it's the shame our educational system has conditioned them to feel for performing physical labor. You think I'm exaggerating? In recent years, many high schools have cut back or eliminated funding for shop and auto mechanic classes. Many say it's to save money but most are openly honest and say it was not the right message they want to send to our youth. The message they want to send is to study hard and go to college. Apparently getting dirty under your fingernails is no longer considered a noble profession.