Hall 1101-351

Amani Nassar

English 1101

Dr. Hall

September 24, 2018

Vocational Skills

Living in a world where both white collar and blue collar jobs exist, it is important to not favor one over the other, but to incorporate both to benefit workers as well as students who will soon become workers. White collar jobs are those of administrative skills while blue collar jobs require physical labor as well as manual skills. One collar is not better than the other, they both help the economy and give individuals jobs to make a living according to their skill set. Reintroducing vocational skills in schools will better prepare students for the real world and allow the to have more opportunities with multiple acquired skills.

Manual labor has changed over the course of time due to the introduction and development of technology. The need for manpower is not as greatly needed today as it once was before as the result of new development in machinery, which now requires less manual operation affecting the population of blue collar jobs as there is less of a need for physical labor. Crawford emphasizes that “the degradation of work in the last century is often tied to the evils of technology in one way or another.” It is for this reason that blue collar jobs are not seen as useful or more popular compared to white collar professions. Our world has become so technologically advanced that we solely rely on technology and the need for manual labor becomes less and less with every passing year. We forget that years before technology, our ancestors used their hands to get the job done and there was no separation of professions as white or blue collar, work was work, mostly all of which was manual labor whether it was working on the farm or creating tools by hand.

With manual labor comes of course a possibly higher salary to pay employees. Labor time is not of importance in the eyes of employers, but rather the amount of money they have to spend on their employees. To work manually requires lots of time, patience and practice. To be a man of manual labor also comes certain required skills and oftentimes a certified degree to show proof that one holds the skills necessary for the job. Crawford puts this as “the concern is rather with labor cost,” in the eyes of the employers instead of labor time and because of this skilled workers are being replaced by unskilled workers since they operate at a lower rate of pay. To operate factories in these conditions is becoming the new reality of today, our blue collar jobs are disappearing as a result of not continuing to instill vocational classes in schools.

In schools today, “manual trades are given little honor,” as stated by Crawford. Crawford continues to agree with this statement by pointing out there is a “fear that acquiring a specific skill set means one’s life is determined,” which is certainly not true. One’s life is truly never determined until they decide it is. The purpose of shop class is to not force students to become blue collar workers, but rather to give them more skills to add to those they already have. In addition, students can learn a new craft that might adhere to their liking and possibly give them a new purpose for a career path to follow. To be apart of a vocational skill class gives students new opportunities to learn more about themselves and to appreciate the work they put out into the world no matter how big or small it may be, just as Crawford realized while working as an electrician. His work was never seen because it was behind the walls, but once the lights came on he was able to see how much his work was appreciated by others.

From personal observation, I have noticed that many other places outside of New York City incorporate vocational skill classes without the institution having to be a trade school. The primary focus of a vocational skill class is to have students prepare for a specific work or trade as one of cousins did. While in high school, my cousin who lives in Pennsylvania took a woodworking class that was designed to give students the chance to work with their hands. Students were graded not so much on what their final project looked like, but the amount of effort they put into their work as well as the skills they used to create this work. Moreover, my cousin had no interest in woodworking until he took this class, his career goal was to be a sheriff which is what he is continuing to pursue. He was able to create works that he never thought were possible for him to do such as a birdhouse and a corner shelf. With this new acquired skill, my cousin can make a side job or even a hobby with his woodworking skills.

Both blue and white collar jobs have value to society. It is our blue collar workers who manufacture, engineer, and even build the structures where white collar jobs exist. Our white collar workers often times hold the administrative office positions that operate many of the blue collar companies and factories. “If genuine knowledge work is not growing but actually shrinking, because it is coming to be concentrated in an ever-smaller elite, this has implications for the vocational advice that students ought to receive.” In making this argument, Crawford supports the need for vocational skills to be reintroduced to students because blue collar professions are disappearing and there is a need to reinstall genuine knowledge into schools today. With genuine knowledge comes genuine passion, something every person should have regardless of their collar of profession. There needs to be a balance of individuals in each collar to not have either one disappear, as a result there can be a decrease in the need for artificial intelligence and an increase in workers.

Reintroducing vocational skills classes in schools can provide students with many opportunities outside of white collar professions. Being able to learn a specific skill is not a bad thing, it is something to be proud of to say you have mastered a specific skill that many others have not got the chance to master. Better preparing students with manual skills, leads them to have a brighter future. In a world like the one we live in today, being multi-talented in different fields of work is beneficial, vocational skills can just be one of many starting opportunities.


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