Skip College and Get a Job

More

Today's Times features a front page piece by labor reporter Louis Uchitelle (author of the estimable The Disposable American on the shortage of experienced blue collar workers--like welders.  While MBA's, lawyers, and other knowlege workers struggle to hold their footing in this slippery economy, welders, it seems, are in high demand.  To illustrate this point, the Times relates the story of Keelan Prados--a welder with more than a decade of experience who nabbed a job at an oil refinery paying $22 an hour.  

 

As the economy tanks, blue collar romanticism blooms.  A new book:  "Shop Class as Soulcraft," penned by political philosopher Matthew Crawford, condemns "cubicle culture" and extolls the virtue of working with one's hands--to build something real.  Dilbert could not agree more...


But taking a closer look leads to questions.  Let's begin with Mr. Prados--who got his new job after finding himself unable to make a decent living running his own machine shop and welding business.  Controlling for inflation, that $22 an hour is far less than Prados' father might have made welding car parts for GM--and when demand for his sort of welding dries up, so will Prado's future--welders don't have a career track.

 

Mr. Crawford (who runs a modest motor cycle repair shop but whose day job is as a Fellow at the University of Virginia Institute for Advanced Studies ) extoll the virtures of hand work from the priviledged position of hobbiest.  His argument is profound, but it should be taken in context.  With union protections all but vanished, the life of real blue collar workers today has never been tougher--or more uncertain. 

     

Jump to comments
Presented by

Ellen Ruppel Shell is the co-director of the Graduate Program in Science Journalism at Boston University. She is the author of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Death of Film: After Hollywood Goes Digital, What Happens to Movies?

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

From This Author

Just In