The Future of Our Youth and Tradespeople
I recently listened to a thought-provoking news report in which the reporter was interviewing the director of a social agency supporting youth in Toronto with mental health issues. This is a significant and important conversation for parents, adolescents and our young people trying to get established as adults. The mental health professionals are acknowledging that they are in high demand and that demand is only going to grow. This is of course a problem on many levels and one that we don't need.
One of the stresses on our young adults that is causing so much mental anxiety is a financial one—it has been called a financial trauma. How do young adults get ahead in a very expensive city, with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, an inability to earn a living wage in many cities across Ontario, and housing costs that are at unprecedented levels?
What was news to me was that although it was a formidable challenge to get established, it is possible to get ahead. But how? One of the solutions being presented was a guaranteed minimum annual income, along with therapy and personal skill development.
All of this is necessary and an appreciated conversation. What comes up for me is that we have to consider that we have sold a couple of generations now on the necessity of a university education. Now, we are sending those graduates off to college afterwards for even more expensive post-secondary education to gain employment.
Why? Who is this serving? The post-secondary instructional empire builders?
Don't misunderstand me, I value education deeply—just not necessarily institutional learning. Informal education is just as effective and more efficient as it is often specifically directed to the need at hand. Experience is another invaluable asset as that takes education and transforms it into wisdom.
We have thousands of well-paying, highly skilled jobs that go unfilled each year. These are in many cases also high paying. Yet, we as a society don't value them, we have a stigma around them. We apply meaning that is not always accurate. What if we changed the paradise and then the system to get more people out of high educational debt and out working faster in high skilled well-paying jobs?
I look at my own education as a tradesperson. After my trade certificate was earned, I have had to educate myself formally through advanced industry training on topics such as marketing, finance, leadership, human resources, and so on. The learning never ends, nor should it!
I hope parents, teachers and students read this and reconsider their choices. This may be one way to elevate the financial trauma they are experiencing.
At La Luma, we have apprentices that are ready to be on the salon floor after just one year of college—and an $11,000 investment in tuition and tools—earning $35 per hour. This is a common fact across many trades. Not bad for a 22-year-old. Within five years, that wage on average goes to $65 per hour.