The American classroom in 2023: College vs. trade schools

Emmy-winning host and show creator, Mike Rowe, joins ABC News Reports as we look at American classrooms and discuss some different paths students might take.

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  1. The Prussian school system wasn't created for no reason, be careful what you wish for…

  2. You’ll get better skills from a trade school then college

  3. I am the proud 1971 grad of a wonderful vocational school in rural Ohio. The skills they taught have fed my family and paid my bills for 50 years and I have never had a hard time getting a job in any economic condition. Without the trades, nothing gets built, nothing gets made or repaired, nothing gets planted and grown. Trade and vocational schools are the backbone of the country.

  4. Fun fact, the host and the interviewed both went to college.

  5. My parents didn’t get to go to college so it was always ingrained that I would go, no matter the degree, no matter the cost. And don’t get me wrong, I loved it. But as a practical matter, it wasn’t the best choice for me and I’m not in my field that I have my degrees in.

  6. There is a stigma attached to trade or vocational school that if you go into a blue collar job, it’s a dead-end job. The overriding thinking is if you go to college you’re going to elevate yourself above that and you will have a “better” career. Nothing could be further from the truth. And although my job is not a quote/unquote blue collar job, I went to a two-year college for court reporting, it’s in the same vein that it’s not a traditional college path. And this was after I got a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in another field. I wish I would have just pursued court reporting from the get-go. Great job, even better money!

  7. Trade schools are great, i have respect for them but, if you want to become a nurse, an architect, a doctor, you have to go to college because they are required to and you have to be licensed by the state to work in the profession

  8. Issue to me is clearly the licensing and regulation, at least in CA. A person may get one class of contractors license in 4 years, assuming they work hard and their boss/company does not screw them over. There should be faster tracks for training and licensing. The system is rigged to make it hard for the individual and small business person to get in.
    If you are a company holding the license you literally only want your employees to get licensed if they remain loyal to you. So you want few of them to do that because you want your labor costs low as possible.

  9. Next thing you know, there will be an over saturation of trade school graduates and no jobs 😂

  10. 11 million open jobs that don’t pay well lol

  11. Shop class is still in some schools. I graduated in 2009 from a rural school that has multiple levels of shop class

  12. Safety standards get ignored in skilled labor jobs. If you work on a car , expect to get bumps scrapes and bruises daily. The smell of oil and brake dust r bad for you. DONT WELD ! its got toxic smoke / fumes, sparks. Its HOT in the SUMMER wearing the coat , helmet, and thick clothing. + robots. NOGO

  13. I think media needs to help. Maybe a cool tv show or Netflix show around Trade School. Maybe Chris Pratt is the shop teacher… Mike Rowe drops in on occasion for a guest appearance.

  14. As a college grad, I acknowledged how high school and society in general is pushing teenagers towards college. It's as if its the only path to become successful. I realized during the four years that I am basically attending a institution for a degree that I am not sure is the field I want to pursue. I was not yet mature enough to know what I want to do for a career. I would encourage high school students to think about what they want to do for a career and even encourage to take a gap year. Now I am saving up to pursue certifications and gain experience to would help me break into project management.

  15. This is as a result of teachers and our k-12 system giving up on kids. All of the "not everyone needs to go to college" comments below is a direct result of our K-12 policy and narrative. I taught at high school for a year, and I was shocked that teacher coaches, deans and principals were parroting this narrative to teachers during professional development classes. It's a complete and total disgrace. College is NOT ONLY ABOUT A JOB. College, for many kids, is getting the education THAT THEY DIDNT GET IN HIGH SCHOOL because of how horrible our K-12 education system is! I taught seniors, and maybe 20% of them could read at a high school level. Reading comprehension was 6th grade level for most of them. And a college education provides room for intellectual and moral growth. It exposes them to different cultures and world views that the high school teachers are afraid to teach about. COLLEGE IS NECESSARY FOR ALL KIDS EVEN THOSE GOING INTO "BLUE COLLAR" TRADE JOBS!!

  16. Love Mike Rowe for his continued efforts on this. So important. Much solid money to be made.

  17. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Just because you're not "smart enough" to go to a 4-year college it doesn't mean you can't succeed in the job field.

  18. A decent jobs that pays well doesn’t mean college is the path! Master’s plus hours in education 27 years later my nephew makes way more within a few years…Good for him!

  19. A college degree is worthless in 2023 I have 2 cannot find a decent job to save my life

  20. im with it, but i can barely change a lightbulb

  21. Another one of today's problems we can thank boomers for. Every boomer parent I know told their kids on a daily basis how they have to go to college without even considering whether that kid would do well in college.

  22. Another reason why there isn't enough trades peoples in America is because most employers don't want to teach their employees how to do everything on the job. Because most employers don't want their employee in the future to start their own business, and compete with them out in the marketplace.

  23. The rich needed college-educated people back in the day. Now they need tradesmen. That's all it is.

  24. What's the difference between school and life? In school, we're given a lesson, and then a test. In life, we're given a test, that teaches us a lesson.

  25. Dropped out of college half way in 2000. Even then. Society forced me to go to college. I Decided to be a Diesel mechanic instead. Saw the shortage happen in 2005 and up when the boomers were retiring. The last 20 years. Seen all of my wife’s family and others tell their kids. College is the only way. Saw lots of professions get flooded. One graduated as a pharmacist . Took him 2 years to get a full time position.Competition became immense. My wife is Asian. High achievers. She was a mid level executive for years. I was looked down at when I first started out as a mechanic. A few years later white collar people would praise me and tell me how expensive it was for auto repairs and how lucky I am to fix my cars, yardwork, home maintenance. Perception changed over time with the shortage. I make 110k a year and get unlimited overtime on my terms. I was recruited to my current job. They now pay for your college and your children’s. My house and 3 rentals are paid for. I am 48. I will be able to retire my later 50s and work part time for fun. I know I will have lots of side work if I want. That’s how much of a demand there is. You don’t need school to become a mechanic anymore. Eventually you will have to take some
    Classes and certifications. The pay has increased for entry level mechanics. Blue collar work had changed. You are not forced to miss breaks and work every holiday. You can go to appointments and pick up your kids without being treated like you don’t care. 20 years ago. Men were expected to tell their wives to take care of the kids and go to all of their appointments etc.

  26. The building, plumbing, and construction trades are being overtaken by poorly trained immigrants who do substandard work at low wages. Thats who your competing with.

  27. Wish I would’ve gone to a trade school, instead of 5 yrs of college with a Degree I never used. Go to University if you want to go into a field where you actually need that degree- Medicine, Engineering, Law..

  28. Creating intellectual property for the businesses of our country is very important. We need to lead the world in the applications of the natural sciences towards all these fields (civil engineering, physics, engineering, etc.). That's why we need many, many people in college.

  29. right.. people who are in the trades make a lot of money, but lack any kind of manners.

  30. Maybe these jobs are a good fit for men but not for women. I don't want to do physically hard work and be the gender minority

  31. Shop classes are a liability. Principals will place 30-50 students in one shop class. Teachers can not supervise all of them. Many students come inside the classroom break equipment, horse around, play with equipment as a toy, start fights, etc. the students are not respectful to the equipment nor to the teacher nor to their classmates. Parents want to do as little parenting as possible because they work 2 jobs then teachers are not going to do shop classes. Also, teachers have to pay for all of the classroom supplies. Do you think as low salary that a shop teacher wants to buy all that lumber and expensive shop materials? No! The schools pay for some supplies like 5-25% of the shop materials and then the rest is on your own. The bad behavior of many students, the high number of students and the lack of financial support for shop materials contribute to no shop class. If parents want their child to learn shop skills, then the parent can use their time, money and patience to teach their own child. Thats really with any skill. Pay someone to teach your child because public high school teachers are not paid enough to deal with the aggravation of a shop class!!!

  32. I am a master tradeswoman. I served in an essential job for 20 years, physically destroyed my body. Now at nearly 50 I'm completely disabled but not eligible for disability or any assistance. There is no union with my trade. I was harassed endlessly and assaulted multiple times because I'm a woman where I "didn't belong" now I'm. struggling with poverty and homelessness. I do not recommend this trade to anyone, especially women.

  33. Bro honestly if you don’t have a strong interest in an academic topic, I highly suggest learning a trade. It’s also relatively easier to master and find a career. I literally have my masters in marketing and I’m having trouble getting positions. It’s so annoying.

  34. It's whatever works for someone, whether it's a trade or being an accountant. There's nothing wrong with being a plumber or construction (the world needs them both) but both are physically demanding and are generally a younger person's job. Once a person can't do that job for whatever reason, what is plan B?

  35. As someone who ended up in a white collar profession with blue collar parents, I never understood why public schools phased out home economics or wood shop or any other type of “practical skills” classes. Even in college, I didn’t understand why some universities focused so heavily on theory while others focused more on applicable knowledge. A well rounded individual in a well rounded society seems like a much better goal. PS. I have no regrets in going towards the college route. It was where I was meant to be. Physical labor just doesn’t suit me like it suits others. I personally would rather we encourage all children to explore all types of professions and give them opportunities to learn about their many varied options.

  36. College = learn how to be a left wing activist

    Trade Schools = learn skills that will benefit your family and community for the rest of your life

  37. I volunteered for a program that helped teens struggling to finish high school as a math tutor. These were mostly 17-19 year old young men who couldn't even pass Algebra I much less Algebra II. The program's goal wasn't for these teens to just graduate high school, but to go to college. It was only when it was clear these young people couldn't possibly go to college that trade school came up. The issue is that if you can't figure out basic math, then you can't do many of the very technical trades. Only these individuals who really have some significant learning issues are being routed into trade schools and they're likely failing there as well or can't end up with a well=paying job if they can't do advanced training. Maybe they can do oil changes as a mechanic but aren't going to be working on transmissions or electric vehicles. Routing kids who are good in math into trade school isn't even considered. Really, this should be thought of as technical school since these jobs aren't manual labor with no math/science skills. Rather than studying Computer Science at a university and getting $100k in student debt, it would make more sent to go to a technical school. But never would high schools promote that.

  38. Amen to Mike It's so true. Trade school is the way. It's a damn shame what's going on when it comes to trade school. NYC has closed down a lot of its trade schools over the years.God bless the school in the Bronx my youngest went to. ❤

  39. Technical career plumbing and electrical and auto mechanics and HVAC etc skills trade careers blue collar vs college white

  40. Thank you, Mike, for leading the charge for for careers in the trades and with your generous foundation!