Rebuilding the Middle Class

040225-N-6125G-038 Atlantic Ocean (Feb. 25, 2004) Ð Fireman Justin Sebelski fabricates specialized parts on a lathe in the machine shop aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).  The nuclear powered aircraft carrier is currently undergoing carrier qualifications and flight deck certification off the Atlantic coast. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Eric S. Garst. (RELEASED)The middle class is about to disappear. And it is not going to disappear because they are all going to shift into the region of upper middle class or even wealthy, the real scenario is very bleak.

The recent financial crises and the lackluster pick-up that followed it has forced many of the middle class to go towards poverty. Many will argue that interest rates are at an all –time low. Interest rates have fallen in the last two years, but most people have older loans taken out at higher rates. Also many middle class families are burdened by their college loans which have not led to the income levels they were expecting. We have failed the middle class miserably which form the majority. So what can we do now?

Is college the only option for career success?


In America, we have for a long time pushed the college route as the road to salvation. Long have we pushed the idea that it is a college degree that shall enable our youth to leap from the middle class to the stratos of upper middle class or even rich. However in Europe there is a very old longstanding tradition of getting technical training right out of high school and then getting a career path at the company where you trained. In the simplest scenario this achieves two things; first fresh high school graduates get trained in skills which have long lasting demand and secondly they are paid for it. This training can then become the base for a future education or even a future career if the person would like to continue in this career.

Right now,according to experts like Deloitte, between 2015 and 20125 there will be over two million jobs openings in the manufacturing sector that could go unfulfilled due to a shortage of qualified applications. This shortage of labor comes at a time when many young people are struggling to get their first job.

Siemens is one example of a company which still takes fresh high school graduates and puts them through an apprenticeship program and gives them a career path at the conclusion of their apprenticeship. This allows young people to learn skills which can get them a good income and a career path till the very top. Many such apprentices armed with a job, get further education, even college degrees. Such apprentices have gone on to become business unit heads over time. Also manufacturers respect practical skills. People with technical skills make much better managers in manufacturing companies as they are aware of what goes on the ground and can make much more contributions in worker efficiency strategies.

Practical experience also gives them an exposure of the day to day work. Young people can then decide what jobs they like and then work on improving their skills in that arena. Also as an apprentice you get opportunities to build a network which can really help you in searching for better job opportunities later on.

A technical training is the start not the end

Many parents fear that encouraging their children to take apprenticeships means the start of a career in a blue collar job with no prospects. That is not true. Many apprentices learn essential skills and come out more focused. Armed with this focus, many apprentice do go for a college education, but this time with a very good idea of what they want to study. An apprenticeship also gives young people a better financial standing and helps avoid student loans or lowers the amount of student debt they have to incur (on an average student graduates with USD 30,000/- in debt).

Written By Rachael
Twitter: @RachaelEverly

Photo by DonkeyHotey


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