In a recent conversation with my father, we were going back and forth about the state of the nation, the job market, and high schoolers. You ask how they all fit together? Good question. Well, the state of our nation has its good parts and its many not so good parts, the one I am talking about is the unemployment rate which directly relates to the job market. How do high schoolers fit in? They are the future of the job market.
During our conversation, my dad asked, “How many recent high school graduates know how to mow the lawn?” To me, mowing the lawn is a simple task, I have know how to do it since I was twelve. Defending my generation, I estimated that around forty percent of recent high school graduates in America know how to mow their own lawn. Not that they all do, but they know how.
The sad part, is that my estimation is probably too high. Especially for Southern California. I have never lived anywhere else, so that is the basis of my opinions, but I would love to know if it is different elsewhere. Obviously, in more farm intensive areas the statistics will be different, because using a lawn mower or farm equipment is second nature to kids in those areas.
I have noticed that in Southern California there are jobs that people want and jobs that people would never do because either they wouldn’t be caught dead at that job or they are “too good” for it. The hot commodity jobs are those at the surf stores, trendy eateries, and coffee shops. The not so hot jobs are ones that require manual labor and embarrassing outfits. While I do not relish the chance of wearing a tacky uniform and bagging groceries, or working outside all day; a job is a job. If I was looking for and needed a job, I would take any job I got.
Unfortunately, this mindset of not stooping to the “lowly” jobs is infecting our country. I understand that it sucks to work in a job that you are overqualified for, and that many people who are in need of a job do. But i definitely hear the complaint of “I’m broke” and “I need a job” among my peers more often than i should if they were willing to accept any job available. In fact, I know for a fact that the local dollar store has been hiring for at least eight months. So has the Big Lots right next to it. At least high school students have the skills to work at these places. Our current education system has partly set us up for this jobless infection.
All of the schools in my district no longer have auto shop and agriculture as electives. They train us to go to college and become educated members of the work force and hold big positions that make a lot of money. Unfortunately this will backfire on them eventually, because as they manufacture robot students who will all grow up to do big things, they will still need auto techs, gardeners, plumbers,contractors, construction workers, electricians, and farmers. Thus the people with the “lowly and unwanted” jobs will be able to charge higher rates for their services because there are so few people who know how to do their job.
This job infection cycle will continue until we get smart enough to realize that not everyone is going to be a doctor with a six figure income and not everyone is going to work as an electrician or plumber, but everyone can find their job niche if they are allowed to search for what makes them happy instead of being pushed into the box that society wants them to conform into.