Thursday, February 8, 2024

Borrow, Graduate, Sling Coffee, Rinse, Repeat

Go to university, score 2.5 GPA, pile up the loans, get master's hoping to get a decent job, pile up more loans.  Rinse repeat.  Such is the scam sold to high school students over the last few decades.  Meanwhile, the trades pay better than coffee shops and don't require student loans.  Some comments made in an article about Baton Rouge's construction boom highlights how screwed up the educational climate is: 

Across the U.S., the manufacturing sector is going through a construction boom, said Brian Turmail, national spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America. Electric vehicle production is leading the way, along with semiconductor plants and data centers....

However, officials also highlighted an Associated General Contractors of America survey, released last year, that said 77% of construction firms can’t find qualified workers.....

Turmail said the “once robust vocational education system” in the U.S. has been allowed to “essentially wither” as high school students were steered toward four-year universities instead of two-year technical colleges.

“This growth is occurring at a time when many older workers are hanging up their tool belts and retiring to Florida and getting out of the industry and at a time when too few young people are considering careers in construction,” Turmail said. “That’s pretty significant because workforce shortages have the potential to undermine growth and demand for construction projects by slowing schedules and ultimately raising the price of construction.”...

Turmail noted that construction jobs pay $35 an hour on average and don’t require a college degree that could saddle graduates with debt.

“When you go to a construction project parking lot, all the nice pickup trucks you see, most of them are paid for,” he joked. “That’s a difference for our industry.”

Shane Kirkpatrick, president of GROUP Contractors in Baton Rouge and president of the Louisiana Associated General Contractors board, said the trade organization is reaching out to local school districts to promote construction careers to K-12 students.

Kirkpatrick said the biggest challenge to recruiting more workers is “changing the mindset” on the viability of a construction career. He said that, before middle school, most parents are asking their children what university they want to attend, not what career they want to pursue. Rest of article.

Granted, there may not be such a construction boom in Mississippi, but the comments do highlight our education system's shortcomings in serving the future workforce.  



Anonymous said...

Yes, we need more construction workers. But we need more accountants and nurses also. Fresh graduates with a masters in accounting are starting at $70k and registered nurses easily make six figures. A good bit more with a specialty.

Not all majors are a waste of money.

Anonymous said...

About 90% of the callers Dave Ramsey receives are teetering on bankruptcy due to student loan debt.
Meanwhile, there are many such as I who make very comfortable livings with outdoor trade skills acquired throughout life and live debt free. We must bring back trade schools (or shop as we called it) to our high school curriculum.

Anonymous said...

The problem with trades is they destroy your body. By age 45-50 you have bad knees, a bad back, and bad everything. Without a Trade Union to support you when you capabilities fail, you find yourself too young for social security, too capable for disability, and too uneducated for a desk job. So you end up taking a job as a maintenance tech at MDOT for shit pay in the hopes you can last long enough to get vested in PERS.

Anonymous said...

We could start by eliminating probably 50% of the degrees offered at universities. These are dead end careers not worth the price of education. Also, the resources from those degrees could be either removed altogether or shifted to degrees with meaning.

Anonymous said...

The pickups in Mississippi construction parking lots have Texas tags and illegal alien drivers.

Don't say our BidNessMen don't know how to cut costs. Tell the truth: your roofing crews was all illegals except one white guy from "the company." And the same in every other trade.

But, Bubba Big Bux III, the owner (probably 2nd or 3rd Gen) says in public he's "against the invasion." Not as far as hiring, paying under the table, and ignoring the fake documents it seems. Why hire black folks or working class whites when you can get illegals? "You know, heh heh, they work real hard, don't complain...."

A big difference between Louisiana, who has unions too, and Two Faced Mississippi. Hell, the CCJ had illegals. Saving some money, the big boys said....

Two Faced people.

Anonymous said...


I think like everything else (trades included), you will advance throughout the years. You ll start swinging a hammer then bump up to straw boss, then foreman. I do realize of course this isn't everyones career trajectory but its a plan that will work for you after those knees fail.

Anonymous said...

In a twist on College vs Construction, I excelled at rough carpentry/framing at 19, which was learned on the job, then taught myself masonry, to install foundations and to build cabinets and furniture. I used these marketable skills to pay for much of my college. It took twice as long, but I payed cash for it.

Krusatyr said...

The most destructive "trade" in the past may have been painting due to exposure to chemical fumes.

Anonymous said...

February 8, 2024 at 9:01 AM, what trades are you saying causes what you describe? The only trade that comes close to that is bricklaying.

Anonymous said...


That degree will only cost you about 120k. And if you don’t pass the cap exam because you spent too much time drinking, you aren’t going to make $70

Anonymous said...

Then there's the issue that so many kids (and adults) don't want to WORK.

Anonymous said...

@9:01 - Well said. With the costs of medical care, those construction workers will owe just as much in medical debt as the college grads owe in student loans. The whole system is screwed for anyone under 50, they have no good options.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher at a community college all I can say is that even the pool of students that can go into the trades is shrinking. I see student's every semester that went through JPS that can not read nor write, do not know there are 12 inches in a foot, do not know how to read a ruler, can not understand basic math, and have no concept of calculating something like square footage.

JPS' everyone passes policy turns their "scholars" into glorified hole diggers and pack mules because JPS has let them be ignorant for so long they are not interested in learning or advancing themselves. Even as hole diggers and pack mules you have to keep an eye on them because you can't tell them "Dig this hole 2 and a half feet deep" because they will just keep digging till they hit China.

The most basic education and critical thinking has obviously been removed from K-12 and we are seeing the results more than ever. JPS is one of the worst offenders in the area but it is not limited to just JPS. The number of frightening unprepared students has been increasing over the years from other districts though at a much lower percentage. Do not even get me started on things like due dates which a majority of students seem to have no concept of anymore due to schools forcing teachers to allow them to turn in entire semesters of work the last week of school so the school can pass them on.

Anonymous said...

This all or nothing argument is not productive. There are degrees that have tremendous value and degrees that are worthless. And the tuition is exactly the same. That's the problem.

Anonymous said...

Not all of us who graduate from college are drowning in debt while working at Starbucks. I worked in the summers before college and between semesters, saved up money, studied hard and applied for scholarships, graduated debt free, got a decent entry level job in my field, and could pay off my car note within the year. A lot of it has to do with what you get your degree in. I understand that a lot of people have to take on student loans to go to college. But if college is the right choice for you, there are ways to prevent yourself from getting completely swamped in loans. Apply for as many scholarships as you can find, work as much as you can, and try to balance getting a degree you’re passionate about with making sure there will be good job opportunities after graduation. And if you don’t think college is the right choice for you, don’t feel pressured into going. Go to trade school or get some sort of certification. That’s the thing about all of this: there is no one size fits all solution. So dismissing college as merely a scam is completely counterproductive to being able to build this state into something better. We need both white collar workers and blue collar workers to improve things around here.

Anonymous said...

Here is another problem with trades in Mississippi.

Me to Wendy's employee: How much do you make here and how many hours do you work?

Wendy's employee: 25 hours, $13 per hour, no insurance

Me to Wendy's employee: I will pay you $26 per hour, work you 45-50 hours per week, provide you fully paid health insurance through BCBS for you AND your wife and kids, and we have a 401K that matches dollar for dollar up to 6%. I will also give you holidays and vacation time as fully paid. And you can take a company vehicle home with you.

Wendy's employee: It's hot outside and your job sounds like a lot of work. I would rather stay here at Wendy's, draw some government aid on the side, bitch about a living wage, and let Brandon Presley and Sid Salter fight for me to get government insurance. I don't want your good paying job with fully provided benefits. Because it sounds too much like work.

Anonymous said...

@9:01 AM, sorry life hasn't turned out the way you planned. Maybe you should considering learning to code.

Anonymous said...

First three comments are all valid ideas.

Tim (the Toolman) Taylor said...

@ February 8, 2024 at 9:01 AM -- While I don't disagree with that outcome for some -- especially hard labor trades in construction -- it does not apply to all. Medical technicians, dental hygienists, and draftsmen, do not have this wear-and-tear. Electricians, plumbers, and mechanical contractors may have to do more laborious tasks during their apprenticeships, but as professionals they have their apprentices or day laborers doing the more physical work. And, today's construction trade professionals provide some of the best inspectors later in their careers.

Anonymous said...

First of all, once upon a universities, particularly state supported ones, weren't for profit businesses. And, student loans had very low interest rates.

Alums donated money for student scholarships more often than new stadiums. AND when a new stadium or arena was built, the student sections were large and the rest of seats required tickets. Some rich alum could permanently buy himself a seat(s).

But, back then rich folks invested in their community and state instead of showing off. They raised more money than the entertaining "event" costs to put on. Indeed, it was considered very nuevo riche (cheap/ tacky) to be flashy.

Being ostentatious is still vulgar.

Anonymous said...

The GOP is pushing vocations v. college degrees because that's the demographic that votes for it.

It's all about winning the next election, and that's all it's about.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm splitting hairs here, but the avg nurse salary in Ms is 63K, of course ranking us 49th.
From the Nurse Journal, and 3 other publications.

Anonymous said...

Oh, get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance
Learn to dance, get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schoolin'
And they put you on the day shift

Bob Dylan
Subterranean Homesick Blues, 1965

Anonymous said...

@8:59am IF we went back to shop classes being reinstituted at the 9-12th grade levels, it would bankrupt the community colleges. This is why Mississippians are taxed double what they need to be - it's to keep the "higher education" system solvent. A full ONE-THIRD of high schools students are being given - yes given - credit for college course at a community college. But the State Auditor is in on the scam, as well as every elected official in Mississippi. Gotta keep them tax dollars coming in at all cost so my wife has a cush jobs at one of those community colleges.

Anonymous said...

9:01 how can you make such a blanket statement as to say the trades destroy your body. Do you work in a trades capacity? Nowhere is safety more emphasized and you don't have the stresses on the body as someone probably did in the 1950s. As for a Trade Union, most are a den of serpents that care nothing about you or your job. They line their own pockets and when they want to throw a dart, they do it by telling you to walk off your job. Some support that is.

Anonymous said...

The real truth in Mississippi is that most counties offer nothing in the form of industry that pays a decent wage. Chicken plant, big meat processing, etc. That falls on the shoulders of the county supervisors as well as the Guvna and legislature for failure to lure in industries in central counties. Its not much different than federal guvment. They tax you to death, twice, feed you a line of Bullcrap buy pillaging our tax dollars. I chose the oilfield years ago because I did not want to live in poverty. Yes, its hard, but I would rather travel with a vocation than be poor and starve. The whole "Go to college" deal was perpetrated on us for financial gain of the rich and indoctrinate kids to the social agenda of the Fed. It wasnt made for the average person, raised in the country. There is a use for a degree, accountants and engineers are needed. But trades keep the world moving.

Anonymous said... says $105k. And to the guy that spent $120k on an accounting degree, that’s insanity. More like $25-35,000 all in.

Anonymous said...

10:14 has posted the most real world example so far. The Government is basically paying people not to work.

Anonymous said...

The problem is a carpenter in Louisiana makes $20-30 an hour and it’s hard work outside. Most carpenters and others trades have to use Obamacare, theirs no retire plan or matching 401k. There are just as many jobs in warehouses and the hospitality fields that match that pay and have benefits . Depending on how long it takes you to get certified on a forklift you can be making $30 an hour in 3 to 6 months My son employs several waiters in bars he manage in Baton Rouge, if they aren’t making $30 an hour , he fires them.

Anonymous said...

I've beaten this drum for years about encouraging more people to go into the trades. IMHO, we should beef up our community college's capabilities and make them free to anyone. While you can learn a lot in high school shop or through apprenticeship, those learning a trade should also get a basic education in finance, economics, marketing, and accounting so that by the time their bodies do give out, they are able to run their own business and hire the younger bucks to take over.

Anonymous said...

But wait, when I was a student at Millsaps, we were told the highest ideal was a liberal arts education. Professors spoke disdainfully of higher education aimed "to get you a job."

These pearls of wisdom came from the most expensive higher ed school in the state. Millsaps never rolled back their charges.

Anonymous said...

@ February 8, 2024 at 9:32 "In a twist on College vs Construction, I excelled at rough carpentry/framing at 19, which was learned on the job, then taught myself masonry, to install foundations and to build cabinets and furniture. I used these marketable skills to pay for much of my college. It took twice as long, but I payed cash for it."

Excellent job. And debt free. And you learned things that will serve you the rest of your life.

Bottom line to me is that we need both blue collar and white collar workers. Nobody is "better" than anybody else. Problems may be different for each group, but both have good/bad points.

Anonymous said...

As someone with children in high school, there is an alarming amount of kids out there who aspire to be "social media influencers" in lieu of going to college or any other sort of after-high-school job training. Not my own, thankfully!

Anonymous said...

Different strokes for different folks.

Anonymous said...

9:01 has a great point! 11:27's rebuttal is bull shit.

My plumber is also an electrician. I know for a fact that he makes over 170k annually and has for years. And he has no debts other than typical monthly business transactions.

They might not welcome him at Shapley's or Eli's unless he could arrange a proper nail-job before dressing appropriately. So, he grills out back on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Most European high schools have 2 lines-- college prep for students going to college and a trade/vocational line for students who know college is not for them. Here they can study hospitality management,--restaurant/hotel management, electrical, plumbing, etc. The students who graduate from the trade/vocational line can then get good jobs instead of having to flip burgers somewhere.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:01 - what is this social media to which you refer?
@ 4:02 - we had that here (Meridian) when I was in high school. One of my big gripes was I could not take "shop" AND science/math.

Anonymous said...

My wife is a retired public school teacher. She says it's not unusual to see some of her graduates waiting tables at the catfish igloo south of Florence, wearing blue vests at Wmart or in the drive thru at Ridgeland Popeyes.

Anonymous said...


What do you think a kid that just graduated high school should be doing for a job? Forensic accounting lol good lord, an 18 year old with a HS diploma working the window at Popeyes while they go to college is the normal progression of life

Anonymous said...

As a commercial contractor we are 40 years too late talking about this. In the 80’s when I graduated from high school I was pretty much laughed at when I made my comment that I was going the “blue collar” way. I was looked down upon and pretty much told I would not make much of myself. I proved them wrong and I can say we are in dire straits. We have no motivation from parent to allow our kids to pursue the vocational option. Getting labor to work on a job is one thing but getting a skilled worker is another. It costs a contractor between $125k to $150k to employ and train a person who will actually absorb the knowledge and accept the responsibility to use the skill set needed to bring back what country used to be. I’m a 3rd generation construction worker / business owner and it’s the worst I’ve ever seen. Public education has played right into the “powers that be” to destroy the working class. Just ask yourself where the United States would be had we not had a working class. We can get into pissing contests all day but at the end, we have to have a human factor to make this world work.

Anonymous said...

1st of all people need the Ambition to "Do Better", that has been lost for many Years. Years ago a High School Kid started at McDonals's flipping burgers, now days it seems that has become a Career- Lazy, non Ambitious People just settle in where they are.

Anonymous said...

@7:55 is correct. Ambition and work ethic matter so much.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:58 who posted: "an 18 year old with a HS diploma working the window at Popeyes while they go to college is the normal progression of life"

Who mentioned 'while they go to college'? The kids I'm talking about, according to the wife, have actually reached their mother's dream for them. Graduate high school and go to work, somewhere, anywhere. Then have three to five kids. Zero plans for college.

Don Drane said...

11:44 said, "The real truth in Mississippi is that most counties offer nothing in the form of industry that pays a decent wage".

No sir, that's not the real truth at all. Counties don't offer industry, nor are employment opportunities arranged by county lines.

Here's the real simple truth regarding job creation:

. Employers offer jobs in exchange for labor.

. Employers looking for a place to establish a presence make that decision based on a number of factors.

. Chief among those factors is whether the area has a workforce sufficient to support the business.

. Locations (whether cities, counties or the boondocks) that do not have a workforce suitable to support industry are passed by and remain, for the most part, dormant.

. Employers will either eventually pay wages sufficient to recruit and retain a workforce or they won't. In the latter case, they usually fold or go broke.

Anonymous said...

Locations (whether cities, counties or the boondocks) that do not have a workforce suitable to support industry are passed by and remain, for the most part, dormant.

A concept lost on the Twitter Yappy Dog.

MBrookes said...

12:43 PM, you are so right. I remember my Mom's friend, a graduate of Rhodes when it was Southwestern at Memphis, telling Mama that she had a liberal arts degree and was imminately qualified to sit on the porch and think.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago I asked a client, who was about 65 y.o. and a 2nd generation contractor, who fields construction crews all over the U.S., what he thought about the labor situation. His answer:

"Meth and crack have wiped out the white labor force."

And there's this:

"there is an alarming amount of kids out there who aspire to be "social media influencers" in lieu of going to college or any other sort of after-high-school job training."

Anonymous said...

The phrase or term 'social media influencer' has been mentioned at least twice. What is one of those, how is the title achieved and what purpose does it have?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"social media influencer'
Idiot who sits in front of computer camera, promoting themselves, by any means necessary, to the point that they get a lot of "followers". When that happens, they are asked to promote a product (oh my gosh, yall, this is the BEST xxx ever, you just got to get some). Non-thinkers follow the command, purchase product. Product owner then sends $$$ to person who told them to go buy it. Product can be actual product, an idea, a way to think, a way to act, etc.

Anonymous said...

5:00 a.m., I think it means "famous for being famous," and it also apparently means they don't have to work, grow up, or otherwise develop into useful human beings.

Anonymous said...

I took the advice of 9:33 and read up on it. It's a real thing, apparently and they're coming out of the woodwork, or rather out of mom's basement.

I also learned that a blog administrator is a 'social media influencer'.

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