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July 8, 2019

Reviewing the United States rankings for Louisiana, it’s sad, embarrassing and maddening that our state is at or near the bottom in every category, including education. It is of further interest that one article attributes a lower number of college graduates to the fact that Louisiana’s economic base of oil and gas provides good paying jobs that do not require a college degree.  As British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said there are three kinds of lies: lies, d—mned lies and statistics.  For once, the lack of college graduates may not be a bad thing and maybe how the categories are ranked should be revisited. Not saying college is a bad thing, just that it is not always necessary to getting a good paying job.
Now You Know:  The real topic to be discussed here is a shortage of tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians, HVAC techs on and on.  This shortage is in part due to a focus on college education pushed by our society over the past several decades.  The public attitude that a vocational or trade school is sub-standard to a college degree has dissuaded some from seeking training in industrial and other trades. This has contributed to the worker shortage.
Now You Know:  PBS News Hour says “The United States has 30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 per year and don’t require a bachelor’s degree, according to the Georgetown center. People with career and technical educations are actually slightly more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials, the U.S. Department of Education reports, and significantly more likely to be working in their fields of study.”  Most students attending college graduate with massive student loan debt which is normally not the case with technical or vocational school. Also, many manufacturers pay tuition for employees to learn skills unique to their business. 
Now You Know: PBS also says “Skilled trades show among the highest potential among job categories, the economic-modeling company Emsi calculates. It says tradespeople also are older than workers in other fields — more than half were over 45 in 2012, the last period for which the subject was studied — meaning looming retirements could result in big shortages.”
 Now You Know:  A major cause for the shortage of skilled workers is the rapid changes in technology. High schools and community colleges are the keys to filling industrial jobs,” It is imperative that high schools in rural areas particularly offer more vocational classes in high school such as industrial computing, welding, plumbing, etc. Also, high school girls should be encouraged to take these classes.  Three percent of U.S. welders are women.
 A major concern for rural America and Catahoula Parish is the lack of a qualified work force. Businesses are not going to move to an area unless qualified workers are available. Catahoula Parish schools need to think seriously about classes that teach a trade. We need to prepare students for employment.