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Is College Still the Surest Path to Success?

Blue CollarWho says you need a college degree to live the American Dream?

Over the last 25 to 50 years, many parents have stressed an agenda that included going to college, earning a degree, and moving on to make beaucoup bucks in the workforce. And many children have heeded the message. Today, the U.S. has more than five times as many college-degree holders as it had just after World War II.

Since then, the economy has transformed from one powered by manufacturing to one powered more by information. Those with college degrees today are more likely to work in front of a computer than with a hammer or pliers in their hands. I saw this unfold in the years after I graduated from a high school that taught technologies such as woodworking, electricity, and building trades. The school eventually switched to an all college-prep curriculum.

As the economy crawls through a slow recovery and the cost of sending a child to college keeps climbing into the stratosphere, ““blue collar”” jobs are making a comeback. If we continue to churn out more college graduates, will there be enough non-college grads around to build your house, overhaul your car’s transmission, and fix your plumbing?

Absolutely! Somewhere along the line, some of us have forgotten about the importance of skilled craftspeople in these jobs that don’t need college degrees. "There is a blue collar renaissance going on right now," author Joe Lamacchia told PayScale.com recently. And why not? If you’re smart and skilled at a craft, you can see the potential pool of experienced tradespeople thin out as more teenagers head off to college, making it easier to find a job in the trades.

Lamacchia, who wrote the book Blue Collar and Proud of It: The All-in-One-Resource for Finding Freedom, Financial Success, and Security Outside of the Cubicle, added: "These are necessary jobs, and they're not going to go anywhere. Our nation's infrastructure is crumbling. .... There's a lot of opportunity here."

Are you a skilled tradesperson? How difficult is it to find work today, or at least hang onto the job you have? Share your views with us.

RELATED LINKS

Expand Your Job Search by Going Green or Bilingual
The 3 Best Industries for Career Changers
Should No Degree Also Mean No Chance? 

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