Does everyone need to go to college? I don’t think so.

Today in the United States we are facing the largest shortage of workers ever in history. I believe this is due to decades of pushing kids from high-school into college under the belief that everyone must attend college to land a good job.

While, I agree that higher learning is great, it’s not the only way to continue your education after high school. My birthday is in June and when I graduated I immediately went in to construction as an apprentice. My 18th birthday was on a Thursday and by the following Monday I had a job lined up doing carpentry. My experience growing up and taking apart everything I could get my hands on to understand how it worked set the stage for my career. In today’s curriculum we prepare kids for one thing and that is to take the college entrance exam. How exactly did that help me in my career choice? With the exception of Math and Science I don’t believe it did anything to prepare me for work.

There are millions of kids who graduate each year that are just like me. They are the future mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, master chefs, hairstylist, clothing designers and who knows a couple of them might even be crazy enough to run for congress. These are the kids who may have a difficult time sitting in a classroom with their minds constantly racing, but they have ideas! We need to spend as much time and resources nurturing these kids skills just like we do our future doctors and lawyers.

In other European nations they have not dismissed these valuable skill sets. In some countries kids are only required to attend school until 9th grade. Once completed they’re given the option to either continue their college prep courses or go into classes for vocational training. That in turn gives the kids that our education system has entirely forgotten about an opportunity to be successful without creating mountains of debt.

For the most part the opposition to bringing these types of programs into American schools see it as unacceptable to divide high school kids into groups of “winners and losers”. This mentality is exactly the problem. Going into college isn’t winning or losing and it’s the same for trade schools. I have never stepped one foot in college. I am married with two boys, I own my own business and my home that my wife and I purchased when we were in our late 20’s. How is that losing? The idea that people who are builders are somehow losing the lottery of life and that needs to end. Some of the greatest men and women that I know, who are the hardest workers I have ever met never stepped one foot in college. My mother who spent over 20 years at General Mills and worked her way up to being the regional manager was the only employee in a management position who never stepped one foot in college.

I don’t want to take away from the importance of higher education. It is only my intention to add to the credence of skilled trades being the backbone to every great nation. A doctor can’t heal patients without a hospital to work in. A lawyer and a judge can’t separate the innocent from the guilty without a courtroom. The millions of amazing teachers in our great nation can not educate our youth without a classroom and you can not have any of these things without skilled trades.

If given the opportunity to go to Washington, I will make it my absolute goal to bring trades back to the forefront of education in the United States.

-David Clifford –