Why trade schools are better

When I was a poor youth with aspirations to move up the social ladder, I had absolutely no interest in trade schools. I viewed it as training for the lower class, something the less intelligent who could not attend college did. 

On top of my snotty views, I had a huge disdain for manual labor. It's not that I looked down on laborers, I just did not view myself as a blue collar guy. I wanted to wear a suit, work on complicated subjects, sign deals, and make the big bucks. 

Now... you can tell where this story is going. Life has a sense of humor. After a decade of vast professional experience, I realized the inverse was true. It was the white collar workers who were doing easy disposal work, while the tradesmen were doing vital technical work. Most of the complications we see in the so called "professionals" are a mirage to hide the ceaseless email checking and redundant paperwork they called work. 

When you understand how a society and economy work, you begin to see a more sinister picture. Being a generalist, the white collar worker is completely dependent on a company to be useful. The only way for him to produce value is by being a cog in a machine. This makes him the slave of his feudal lord, the employer. With this comes all the fears and insecurities we often witness in the corporate world. 

The artisan or tradesman on the other hand, is a unit of value in of himself. A carpenter for example, can choose to work for a company, he may join a local union, he may start his own contracting business, he can freelance gigs, he can even consume his own labor by building products for himself. The carpenter can also travel anywhere in the world and find work, something that isn't true for a real estate or insurance agent. I used carpentry in this particular example, but the same can be said for plumbers, electricians, welders, programmers, etc. Their skill is global.

Because of this autonomy, the tradesman maintain a certain pride that the average white collar person does not know. While the tradesman stands proud, the white collar worker is bent under bureaucracy, administration, and office politics.

Artisan and tradesman also get the pleasure of seeing the tangible results of their work. They get to see the effect their labor has on the real world- a very fulfilling reward. As great as all these points sound, the best has yet to arrive.

The greatest realization that I have is that manual labor and intellect is reciprocal. What this means is that they affect each other. Manual labor makes you intellectually smarter, and as you get smarter, manual labor improves in efficiency and quality. The two are intimately related. This means that it is actually the tradesman and artisan who are more intellectually capable. Such a statement may sound bold, but a little thought would show that it makes sense. 

Think of your modern white collar worker, sitting on a computer typing and clicking all day. How is this mechanically dynamic? He is not exposed to new environments, meeting different people, and facing physical problems. The tradesman on the other hand must deal with unique problems with each clients he serves. Common sense will then show you, that the tradesman is required to have a higher social and technical IQ based on the nature of his work. 

What about the scientist, engineers, and surgeons... Aren't they white collar workers? Though these folks have formal degrees, their work is much closer to a trade than anything else. Take software engineers for an example, a very abstract work requiring a high level of symbol manipulation. Many software developers openly admit their work is more of a trade than a science. It's also one of the reasons why coding bootcamps, which is essentially a trade school, are popping up all over the country. I hope the medical field follow suit one day and send pre-med students straight to residency which is a form of trade apprenticeship in of itself. 

In conclusion, the foundational elements of a modern country are all trades. Plumbing, electrical, carpentry, welding, train conductors, etc. These are the pillars that makes the foundational wealth of a country. I am not stating that a liberal college education is useless for it certainly has its place. A college education is for those who already possess a craft and are well established. They can then use their newfound wealth to obtain a liberal education as their role in society shift from laborer to manager or financier. However first things come first. Before you enroll for that University education, consider attending a trade school first. Your labor and skills will not only help keeping the nation upright, but it will keep you and your self esteem upright as well. 

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