As student debt increases, learning a trade sees new advantages

Madison Rexroat

College degrees are still valuable assets in a competitive job market. In fact, a Federal Reserve study found that college graduates earn nearly $830,000 more in their lifetime than non-college graduates. The unemployment rate is also lower – 2.7 percent last year compared to 5.2 percent for those with only a high school diploma.

However, blue-collar jobs – ones that don’t require a college degree – are going unfilled while students continue to rack up college debt for a degree they might not even use. Companies in these blue collar industries (think lumber, welding and construction) are earnestly recruiting new hires to account for those under-filled jobs.

Blue-collar jobs aren’t necessarily low-paying, either. Management and recruiting jobs at some companies, along with bonuses, can earn employees up to six figures.

Blue-collar, trade-based jobs are indeed narrowing, falling from 63 percent in 1960 to 39 percent in 2014, but that realization has left well-paying jobs of today unfilled in fear of the technology of tomorrow – or 40 years from now.

School isn’t for everyone, and manual-labor jobs need filling now. When it comes down to it, though, job-seekers and prospective students must ask themselves: will a college degree get me the job security I want now and if not, will foregoing school cost me my job security later?

To read the full article in Bloomberg Businessweek, click here.