A friend passed on the link to a David Brooks piece in the New York Times with interesting insight into the current state of employment. This kind of commentary always gets my attention because it brings into question what we’re choosing to insist on for kids.  The bias toward certain professions and what we imagine it takes to prepare properly for these in the early years (spelling, multiplication, etc.) means that many kids are surprised to find that doing as they were told from the age of five not only doesn’t necessarily get them fulfillment and affluence, it may not even qualify them for the jobs that are actually available.

From Brooks’ piece:

“One of the perversities of this recession is that as the unemployment rate has risen, the job vacancy rate has risen, too. Manufacturing firms can’t find skilled machinists. Narayana Kocherlakota of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank calculates that if we had a normal match between the skills workers possess and the skills employers require, then the unemployment rate would be 6.5 percent, not 9.6 percent.

There are several factors contributing to this mismatch (people are finding it hard to sell their homes and move to new opportunities), but one problem is that we have too many mortgage brokers and not enough mechanics.”

There are many kids who show early promise as mechanics, a perceptiveness and ingenuity when it comes to machinery and diagnostics, but we’re too convinced that that sort of work is not access to security, affluence, and esteem to get behind a pursuit that might actually serve a child very well. It doesn’t have to be to the exclusion of academic pursuit either.  It’s very possible to facilitate technical training alongside the academic.