Education vs. Training

Buried deep within the never ending debate on job growth is a fundamental misunderstanding on the difference between education and training. I am a strong supporter of traditional apprenticeship programs but also enjoyed my college classes. Both experiences shaped me as a person and I wish everyone had the opportunity to study things that interested them besides developing skills that make them a contributing member of society.

Sadly, we have many highly educated people who look down on those who work with their hands for a living. A framed diploma on your wall does not render you superior to a laborer or tradesman. All the degrees in the world will not fix your leaking sink or keep your lights from flickering

After WWII our country bet heavily on higher education. It was a bold move for an economy that was less than 40 years from establishing the goal of twelve years of schooling for all. In 1900 only the lucky or the wealthy went to school after grade 8.

Some of those “grade school” graduates went into the trades and became vital contributors to their communities. Others were lucky to get “manual labor” jobs in our factories. The War changed the game since military operations required literacy, basic math skills, and an appreciation for civics. The General Equivalency Diploma [GED] grew out of a need to bring large numbers of people up to the minimum standards of understanding.

Now we have a society that believes every job over floor sweeper needs a degree and anyone who does not go to college is a failure. It reminds me of a favorite joke: A noted New York City brain surgeon calls a plumber to fix his office toilet on a Saturday. The plumber fixes it in 10 minutes and gives him a bill for $250. The doctor complains “This is a rate of $1,500 an hour! I’m a brain surgeon and I only charge $1,000 an hour.” The plumber retorts: “That’s all I could get as a brain surgeon too, so I quit and became a plumber.”

I like that joke not because it deflates a big ego but because it illustrates the need to match capabilities to the task at hand. You may enjoy studying an obscure highly intellectual topic but it won’t necessarily pay the bills.

About Charles D. Schultz 470 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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