Maybe better to join a union and learn a trade, eh!

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NorthReport
Maybe better to join a union and learn a trade, eh!

Canada’s Middle Class Is on the Brink of Ruin

Why we’d rather binge on cheap credit than live within our means

https://thewalrus.ca/canadas-middle-class-is-on-the-brink-of-ruin/

NorthReport

The High Value of Trade School: 5 Proven Advantages

https://www.trade-schools.ca/articles/value-of-trade-school.asp

Aristotleded24

Trades aren't for everybody. Even so, working a minimum wage job guarantees you something at the end of the day, which is more than I can say for University.

My honest advice for young people is if they want to learn and explore, there are several exchange and volunteer programs to do it. If you want to learn all kinds of things and expose yourself to different perspectives, check out your local library. (This may not be an option if you live in Saskatchewan.) If they want money, they're better off getting a job. With the high tuition, lost productivity while going to school, and horrible job prospects, I'm not sure that going to university is a worthwhile financial investment when all is factored in anyways. The employees who end up most vaulable to their organizations are those who started at entry level, learned about the company and the job, and took on challenges, not those who got a $5000 piece of paper merely for reading textbooks and writing tests and essays.

NorthReport

The great tragedy for many, many Canadians is that they have been sold a bill of goods by the education industry. Had they just simply gone out and got a trade
and saved their earnings for a few years they could have had their homes paid for and be earning enough to look after their families as well

NorthReport

A lot more women are needed in the trades

lagatta4

Some trades have also become obsolete. I remember wanting to be a printer when I was young - now most printers have had to retrain for something else. There are no guarantees. 

I also think a degree of general academic education is important for pretty much everyone. Here in Québec, we have the Cégep system (Colleges teaching general and professional (vocational) programmes). Both streams have to take core academic courses. Tradespersons nowadays need to be computer and generally literate.

The couple described in the article come from a distant country; this is a dilemma for many as it is important - even in "economic" terms - to maintain family ties. Easy credit may be part of their problem, but poor planning by governments (aka sprawl) was a significant factor too. It meant they had to own two cars and do lengthy commutes - which is not only polluting but also extremely stressful. And a housing stock based more on multifamily housing - but designed so as to be appealing to families - would have meant they could spend less on housing. And it isn't as if they had "too many" children, they had only two, but complications of pregnancy and birth of the second shild. 

I don't see the problem described as being caused by their "white collar" occupations as much as a social and economic order designed to increase consumption. How would it be different if they were working in trades? Skilled blue-collar workers get laid-off too - look at what is happening here at Bombardier. I'm not saying that to put down trades - of course there is a snobbery about them in some families, although they are often a better and steadier choice. 

I think the thread title here was a bit mean-spirited. Yes, people should unionize, but also join together in other ways, like the women in the housing co-operative. And demand more social and affordable housing, not as a kind of charity but as a sounder form of development. And obviously, better public transport. 

Martin N.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, the STEM disciplines are in great demand. Arts and Humanities, not so much. Unmanned vehicles and robotics in general will remove a number of job types and the remainer will require computer and math skills.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

We'll always need buildings, plumbing in those buildings, things made of wood, metals joined using extreme heat, access to electrical power, and so on.  The trades will be obsolete around the same time that growing food becomes obsolete.

My only quarrel with the thread title (aside from the 'tude that Lagatta noted) was that if I'm not mistaken, one learns to weld, THEN joins the welder's union, and not the other way around.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

All jobs should be unionized. Walmart and McDonald's need to learn that labour is the cost of business. If not,let them go bankrupt and die.

lagatta4

Absolutely. That includes "false freelancers". There have been some attempts to organise ourselves, but it is very difficult. 

There are different fibres in this thread; I agree with the importance of promoting trades education, and sadly a stigma about such channels remains. But the idea that only STEM channels will create jobs in future seems very reductive; won't we always need teachers and healthcare workers - in the latter case their jobs involve science and technology, but also care for humans - and other sentient beings. And while technology can certainly enhance writing (creative or utilitarian) and the arts, there are elements that will always require human intervention and which are often not sufficiently valued in North American societies; in particular if we look at the dismal average earnings of cultural workers and our precarious circumstances. 

I'm sure there are many other jobs that we can value for their contribution to society and to the natural world. And there is yet another facet - if technological progress is lessening the need for human labour, shouldn't we be concentrating on reducing working hours, workweeks and providing workers longer holidays, taken for granted in some other countries?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Or maybe the animosity to liberal arts is a just-so story promoted by sour-grapers?

https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/02/20/billionaire-predict...

"Mark Cuban, the billionaire investor, gave a lengthy interview to Bloomberg on Friday. Much of the discussion was about Cuban's pessimistic (for workers) view of the world of work in the years ahead. He predicted that automation and artificial intelligence will eliminate many jobs, leading to widespread displacement. Asked if this means students should major in finance, he rejected the idea, predicting "much greater demand for liberal arts majors" in 10 years than there will be for those who study programming and maybe engineering. It will be those with true analysis skills and creativity who will thrive, he said, specifically stating that majors in English, philosophy and foreign language are likely to be in high demand. The bad news for the liberal arts, in Cuban's view, is that its graduates "will starve for a while" until all of these job shift happen. The discussion of employment and majors starts around the 12 minute mark of the video below."

It also remains true that for the first while after graduation, university-educated job seekers often earn less than their trades-job friends, but in the long run they do better financially, even with the student loans.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

NorthReport wrote:

The great tragedy for many, many Canadians is that they have been sold a bill of goods by the education industry. Had they just simply gone out and got a trade and saved their earnings for a few years they could have had their homes paid for and be earning enough to look after their families as well

I had both a trade and a profession prior to retiring. I got my trade papers in 1981 just in time to see the Socred's decimate the unionized construction sector. I went back to school in 1989 full time because I couldn't make a year round living and the Merit shop jobs that were available were not suitable for a union sympathiser because if that was discovered the lay-off would come shortly after. The other problem were the Mulroney changes to EI that meant there was no safety net for the long cold winters in the interior when there is little to no work.

Getting a trade that you can ply in your hometown is a great way to go. Getting a trade to work construction camps is not sustainable over the long term because construction is subject to inevitable downturns that leave one with no work.

Aristotleded24

If this:

Timebandit wrote:
Or maybe the animosity to liberal arts is a just-so story promoted by sour-grapers?

https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/02/20/billionaire-predict...

"Mark Cuban, the billionaire investor, gave a lengthy interview to Bloomberg on Friday. Much of the discussion was about Cuban's pessimistic (for workers) view of the world of work in the years ahead. He predicted that automation and artificial intelligence will eliminate many jobs, leading to widespread displacement. Asked if this means students should major in finance, he rejected the idea, predicting "much greater demand for liberal arts majors" in 10 years than there will be for those who study programming and maybe engineering. It will be those with true analysis skills and creativity who will thrive, he said, specifically stating that majors in English, philosophy and foreign language are likely to be in high demand. The bad news for the liberal arts, in Cuban's view, is that its graduates "will starve for a while" until all of these job shift happen. The discussion of employment and majors starts around the 12 minute mark of the video below."

was in response to this:

Martin N. wrote:
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, the STEM disciplines are in great demand. Arts and Humanities, not so much. Unmanned vehicles and robotics in general will remove a number of job types and the remainer will require computer and math skills.

then it must be said that people with all kinds of levels of post-secondary education and all kinds, whether science, huamnities, masters, and Ph. Ds, all struggle to find meaningful work in their field. It's not a coincidence that the cost of post-secondary education rose as jobs not requiring it disappeared and more people started looking for that education in order to be employable. People have been following advice for decades about which to study in order to maximize their employability without success, so I'm skeptical of the above claim that the humanities are going to suddenly become high-demand. The real issue is not that people are studying the wrong things in school, but that we have an economic system that is continually throwing more and more people behind. It is not something that any one individual can educate themselves around in order to escape, it is a problem that society as a whole has to deal with.

Timebandit wrote:
It also remains true that for the first while after graduation, university-educated job seekers often earn less than their trades-job friends, but in the long run they do better financially, even with the student loans.

That depends on timing. If you graduate from university in your early to mid-20s, then yes your earning potential is great. If  you're in your 30s or older, and you've gone to school for 1 or 2 degrees, not found much work with them, or maybe you weren't even ready for univeristy when society said you were supposed to be, then yes, you do hit a point where there are diminishing returns on the investment of your time and money in education.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Actually, earning potential in the long term increases across the board if you have a bachelor's degree in the arts and humanities, and moreso if you have a graduate degree.

Be that as it may, however, jobs for people who have studied arts and humanities have always had a pretty steady demand. The right-wing trope you've swallowed doesn't make it any less true that people graduating from programs in the arts and humanities equal or surpass their trade-school counterparts in earnings and employability over time. There's also the seasonal nature of many trades, as kropotkin illustrated above. FWIW, my father was a journeyman painter, as was my grandfather and winter was slow and lean. And the work gets harder as you get older, so the earnings become less, sometimes, too. It only looks like the superior option if you're looking at the first 5 years after you get out of school. I'd also like to point out that "suddenly" is your misinterpretation - if you read the article, it talks about a gradual uptick in the coming years. Which means that while they've always been employable, arts and letters grads are going to be MORE SO in future.

You're also discounting the rise of multidisciplinary graduate degrees. I've known several masters and doctoral students with a background in sciences and engineering who are taking at least some component of arts in their program so that they have the kinds of skills learned through the arts as well as the hard sciences. Apparently it makes them more employable after graduation.

Anecdotally, I have a relative who has a background in theatre and stagecraft who got into robotics, graduated in his mid thirties and is now working for Apple. He appears to be doing very well - and they hired him specifically because of the breadth of his experience and his background in the arts. So it does happen. I think we'll see more of that in the future.

Personally, I don't think there's a right or wrong path. Choose what your inclination is and be prepared to adapt to the future. That's the best you can hope for.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
The real issue is not that people are studying the wrong things in school, but that we have an economic system that is continually throwing more and more people behind. It is not something that any one individual can educate themselves around in order to escape, it is a problem that society as a whole has to deal with.

Or else it's just a "buyer's market".  I tend to think a lot of employers who have no real, material need for a baccalaureate degree have just realized that if they expect one in the job description, it won't be their chore to weed out the "Grade 11's".

Quote:
Personally, I don't think there's a right or wrong path. Choose what your inclination is and be prepared to adapt to the future. That's the best you can hope for.

That's good advice.  If Maclean's magazine says that Intersectional Multidisciplinary Sustainable Gender Studies is the fastest growing sub-sub-sector, but you don't really know or care what that is, follow your bliss.    Do what you care about, and if you can keep body and soul together and be happy, your friends will envy that more than your T4's.

Aristotleded24

Timebandit wrote:
The right-wing trope you've swallowed

It's not a right-wing trope. It's the experience of on more than one occaision graduating with useless degrees after falling for the false promises of the institutions.

And I'm sorry if I came across as singling out the humaities in my posting. It is fully my intention to criticize all university programs equally, whether they be humanities or science, at either the under grad, graduate, or PhD level.

Timebandit wrote:
I'd also like to point out that "suddenly" is your misinterpretation - if you read the article, it talks about a gradual uptick in the coming years. Which means that while they've always been employable, arts and letters grads are going to be MORE SO in future.

Ah yes, things are bad now, but just persevere, stick at it, and good things will come your way. It's a growing field, things will change, and there will be all kinds of demand for it in the future!

Nope. I've waited and stuck it out at things for far too long and all I did was waste time and energy that could have been more productively spent elsewhere. Not falling for it this time.

Timebandit wrote:
You're also discounting the rise of multidisciplinary graduate degrees. I've known several masters and doctoral students with a background in sciences and engineering who are taking at least some component of arts in their program so that they have the kinds of skills learned through the arts as well as the hard sciences. Apparently it makes them more employable after graduation.

Anecdotally, I have a relative who has a background in theatre and stagecraft who got into robotics, graduated in his mid thirties and is now working for Apple. He appears to be doing very well - and they hired him specifically because of the breadth of his experience and his background in the arts. So it does happen. I think we'll see more of that in the future.

I'm happy for this relative, but I don't think it necessarily proves anything in the big picture. You could have come up with several anecdotes of business and business owners doing quite well in the 1930s, but that still doesn't disprove that this was an overall difficult time for people. There's also several anectodes of people going to school and getting degree after degree after degree and still struggling with unemployment or under-employment. These particular anecdotes are a core theme of Niki Ashton's campaign for NDP leader.

Timebandit wrote:
Personally, I don't think there's a right or wrong path. Choose what your inclination is and be prepared to adapt to the future. That's the best you can hope for.

I agree. The problem is that when I was around the age of entering university, there was so much pressure from schools, teachers, and parents in general that you HAVE to go to school and get a good education so you can get a good job, otherwise you will fail and THE WORLD WILL COME TO AN END!  Considering the life experience of many people in this age range, it's very challenging to wade through these pressure tactics and truly make your own decision about what you feel is best for you. I doubt that things have changed for the better in this regard.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Interesting bit of potential cognitive bias - my anecdote proves nothing (entirely possible), but your own anecdotal experience is the basis for sweeping recommendations for all youth. 

Sorry you've had a rough go, but I think if you interpreted any promises of success from educational institutions there may be a bit of misunderstanding. I've never actually heard of a reputable institution making any kind of guarantee. Education isn't the sole factor responsible for a successful career. Have you ever considered it might be something else?