I recently had a conversation with Troy Johnson, a leading voice in the trades industry, about how we might help students learn about high demand and emerging career opportunities that match career aspirations.

Read his brilliant insights:

I think [finding a way to help students find and prepare for careers] would create a much happier workforce as well. Technical education has become “the consolation prize” – to use Mike Rowe’s phrase – for students who can’t get into a four-year liberal arts college. It’s a shame because, as I think you will agree, not every high school senior should go to a traditional four-year college. There are multiple options for them now. Even the young people who finish a four-year liberal art bachelor’s degree accumulate six figures of debt. It’s really no wonder that they are so discontented as a group. And there seems to be no one advocating for reductions or limits on tuitions anywhere. The price of tuition has gone up faster than energy costs, food costs, and even healthcare, yet the emphasis is always on financing the tuition, not looking at ways to make these educational institutions more cost-efficient.

I’d really like to see a renaissance in career guidance and counseling that emphasizes more in-depth matching between students’ abilities AND interests against the real works needs of companies in the U.S. It is such an important point in these young peoples’ lives, they deserve more thoughtful advice and exposure to more potential career trajectories. With a smaller population of young people, I really think there could be a business concept that serves companies looking for bright high schoolers that they will hire for demonstrated work ethic and train them in-house for whatever job level skills the companies need filled.

Like I said, “America doesn’t have the skill problem, it has a recruiting problem.” Maybe what we need is something similar to the NFL draft where companies compete for students with strong skills right out of high school…It’s something to think about.

Some states are finding creative ways to create stature for positions in the trades. Dream2Career uses the term “specialists” to describe these positions because these individuals are the true problem solvers needed in our society. Join the conversation. What are your thoughts about how we might help students succeed?


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