Shop classes have all but disappeared from many American schools, and at first glance that might seem like a logical step. Why would today’s wired kids need to know how to work with their hands? The answer is that they still need the inspiration and understanding that results from turning something digital into something real.
As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, manufacturing jobs paying upwards of $80,000 a year are going unfilled in an era when unemployment hovers around nine percent. Three factors are contributing to the shortfall in workers. Baby boomers with sophisticated machine skills are retiring in large numbers at the same time that parents and guidance counselors discourage kids from pursuing careers in manufacturing. Additionally, the U.S. education system isn’t producing enough graduates with the math and science proficiency necessary to operate and repair computer-controlled factory equipment.
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Talking to others I realize I must have gone to school right at the golden age of Jr. high metal shop class.
Mr. Cooper’s class did it all. Not just drill presses and lathes, we did sand casting with molten aluminum, electric arc and oxy-acetylene gas welding, even cutting steel with blow torches…sparks everywhere!
I can’t imagine a school today turning 15 year olds loose with those kinds of toys^H^H^H^Htools.
Boy hammers nail, misses nail hits finger, Lawyer sues, school pays millions, insurance premium soars, shop class closed.
Last night I was building a cabinet out of plywood (to display an interactive art piece for a gallery night) and I thought back to how lucky I was to have shop classes when I was in school. It’s been sad to follow the story of the “tech” classes in my daughters’ schools where there is less and less actual “making” of things. Using saws and drills and basic hand tools are things that I’ll probably end up teaching my kids to do, since the schools don’t see much value in it.
If you read the comments to the article you posted you will see that the facts presented by the WSJ are distorted. High paying jobs in the factory? Just a bunch of BS, most of the comments were from people making less than $9/hr and no benefits. Guess the factories don’t want to pay what the skills are worth, maybe THAT’S the real reason jobs are not getting filled.