Our workforce is old. Not “a few years older than it likely should be” old, but dangerously old. …
The population under 16 (not working) and population over 65 (more likely to be retired) are roughly equivalent right now, which means our workforce age should hew pretty close to our overall median age. In other words, for every child not dragging the workforce age down, there should be a retiree not dragging the workforce age up.
In our professions, then, we would expect to see a median age of around 38. …According to the [US] Bureau of Labor Statistics, we’ve got some wide discrepancies. Looking at just a few:
- Real estate agents: 49.1 years old
- Automotive mechanics: 47.4 years old
- Facilities managers: 50.1 years old
- Bus/Shuttle drivers: 55.6 years old
- Housekeeping/Janitorial: 50.1 years old
- Home health aides: 47.2 years old
- Electrical trades: 46.8 years old
Yikes. There were plenty of professions even older than that, but I picked these for a reason — there’s little barrier to entry. You don’t need a $200,000 piece of paper, and they’re located across the country. You don’t need to live in a growing metropolitan area to have any of these jobs. In other words, based on ease of access, they should be younger. But they’re not.
Something is up. And it’s generational.
I don’t like to blame millennials universally as many others do. Make no mistake, I loathe my generation. …
Gen Y was the first generation to be universally told that they would need college to succeed. Even I got that speech frequently, and I was an underperforming (and often absent) student in a mediocre school. I can only imagine how heavy it was indoctrinated in other districts.
Well, even if it wasn’t implicitly stated, adolescents could get the gist of what was being said: No college means no college-required jobs, which means failure. The obvious conclusion is that non-college careers are failures. …
This is simultaneously false, condescending, and ridiculous, but it’s also how a lot of this generation was brought up. I remember towards the end of high school, I was kicking around the idea of taking some certificate courses in construction management and exploring those trades a bit. My teachers and classmates looked at me like I just publicly threatened suicide. It was ridiculous. For the record, I’ve gone on to finance and supervise the funding and progress of large construction projects across the U.S.
So, what did we get? A generation that went to college in larger numbers than ever before, regardless of whether it appealed to them, made financial sense, or even made practical sense for the individual. If you were of the means or opportunity to go, you went. Period. A few like myself didn’t, but we were rare.
Now once you’ve blown $100,000 or more on your education, it’s only natural to feel that you shouldn’t have to work a “manual” job. I mean, what was all this for then, right? Especially since grade inflation made everyone a 3.2+ GPA student. So they swarmed the white-collar fields, drove salaries down, and realized that those jobs sucked too. Attached to your phone long after work was over, responding to whatever imaginary crisis needs resolution. What a deal. Meanwhile, the vital jobs went unattended.
Mechanics, electricians, stonemasons, general laborers: these are all trades that allow the world to keep on humming. We can’t rely on the older half of Gen X and the younger half of the boomers to build everything for everyone in perpetuity. Yet we seem content to.
Producing something and making a living wage for yourself or your family used to be an item of pride for many. Now, if our primary careers flame out, we instead look for a permanent side-hustle or join the “creator” economy.
There’s some value there for society, sure, but not everyone can just live the dream forever. This whole trend of “influencing” is a bit ridiculous too, but more a byproduct of how our society is today than anything else. Point is, at the peak of their professional careers, fewer millennials are in the real workforce than any other generation before them. …
A lot of my friends went to work in trades. They’re universally doing better than the white-collar college graduates I know. Higher incomes (due to excessive demand) and no debt. The pendulum may be swinging back.
In addition to the college con, the incentives just aren’t there any more. The welfare state means you don’t get paid a lot more for working in a low to middling job, rather than not working.
In addition, for men the need to earn to impress a woman are reduced because women want to marry up, and the education system encourages more women and fewer men to get fancy certification. The state is a bigger daddy than many men can ever hope to be, and single mums are really married to the state. Culturally, men are despised and mocked, and discriminated against in the workforce. Finally, the family courts ensure men are thoroughly cheated by any wife who gets sick of them. So why bother? It’s a badly stacked game, and increasingly many men choose not to play.
Bigger government and more leftism have created these problems, but nothing that cannot be reversed.