Latest from Columns

Photo 16903019 © Skypixel |
Photo 51372886 © Thinglass |

A Service Story

May 16, 2024
Photo 210659396 © Freemanhan2011
Illustration 9227645 © Ashestosky |
Photo 161233010 © Jamesteohart |
Photo 43963025 | Business © Choneschones |
Bob Clark
Bob Clark College of DuPage

Letter to America: We Need Technicians

Nov. 17, 2017
America's educational system has mistakenly allowed career guidance to rest mostly in the hands of psychologists and guidance counselors who are unaware of the importance of trade careers, or who are biased against the trades.

Dear America,

I am writing to you to identify a major problem in our society. We have a country of college graduates that cannot find a job. We also have major industries that cannot find qualified skilled workers. Today’s college graduates have considerable amounts of debt and they do not have a job that can realistically pay back their non-dischargeable debt. It usually takes a war, an industrial revolution, or a massive wave of retirements to get our educational system to focus on a key national issue. What happened to focusing on education that built America and improved our citizens’ standard of living? It seems that we have allowed our country to follow Ancient Rome’s pompous game plan in education.        

Within all levels of education, an area of great concern for citizens, in this country, should be career guidance. We have allowed career guidance, as a country, to rest mostly in the hands of psychology educated citizens. While psychology is fascinating, it does not give an individual a license to successfully guide our children towards our workforce. Psychology educated citizens should be nursing the mental disorders of our school systems. At what point did the world allow people who diagnose mental disorders the ability to guide our children towards careers? Not only are they not qualified, they don’t even keep a pulse on the workforce needs. The Nursing Reinvestment Act is a $397 billion dollar example of a workforce pulse completely missed. Today, it is skilled trades. Tomorrow, it will be something else.     

I challenge America to reevaluate how we guide students towards careers. Look at your school systems and see how polluted career guidance has become with the limited scope of psychology educated individuals. They have somehow found a home in one of the most important areas of our education system: career guidance. 

The people that take on the roles of career guidance counselors do not understand anything more than the power words delivered to them from their superiors. They use words like manufacturing or trades and have no idea what they mean. When they speak to psychology, English, or general education they are very articulate and aware. People are mostly made up of water, which means that they will probably take the path of least resistance. The point here is that they are not qualified to give our children the proper guidance with their limited scope of career awareness and career training. 

Do you wonder why trades got stripped from high schools and middle schools? Do you think that the psychologists encouraged students to pursue “trades” unless they were failing high school? They used skilled trades programs as cells for bad kids. Do you think good kids wanted to be in class with all of the bad kids? Once program enrollment tanked, it became an easy decision to wipe skilled trades classes out of our school systems. At what point did we allow skilled trades to NOT become a general education REQUIREMENT? What built America? What maintains America’s standard of living? Who can shift America into a fortress of manufacturing to supply our national defense? 

This is an issue that has to be solved at the top. Career guidance should be handled by people that have a well-rounded understanding of the workforce. It should also be mandated that they are involved with the workforce needs of the community. The department of education should MANDATE that all schools require every student to take multiple skilled trade classes as an educational requirement. ALL students coming into any level of education should be exposed to Career and Technical Education programs and not just pathways to four-year degrees. This country can start by changing the people that we allow into these positions to segregate our children into their subjective and limited scopes. It is funny that liberal education, at one time, was meant to broaden a person’s general knowledge beyond technical training. Now, it seems that liberal education should mean to broaden our children’s mind with something more than career-less pathways and heaping debt. What will make America great again is skilled labor. It is time to get the ivory tower’s priorities aligned with our workforce so we do not repeat ancient Rome’s pompous mistakes.         

CLICK HERE TO READ an interview with Bob Clark and see some of his students' accomplishments.

About the Author

Bob Clark | Business & Technology Instructor

Bob Clark, MBA, Ed.D. is a business and technology instructor at the College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Ill. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business and Communications, a Master's Degree in Energy & Sustainability, and a doctorage in Career and Technical Education. He holds numerous licenses and certifications, including multiple Building Automation certifications, VRF certification, electrical license and NFPA 70E certification and EPA Unviersal.