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  1. #1
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    Default Mike Rowe (Dirty jobs) testifies before the U.S. Senate

    This morning I stumbled across a brilliant and thought provoking piece called Testimony of Mike Rowe

    Mike Rowe (Dirty jobs) testifies before the U.S. Senate about the critical shortage of skilled labour in the states (And worldwide)

    Right now, American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions.

    There are 450,000 openings in trades, transportation and utilities. The skills gap is real, and it's getting wider. In Alabama, a third of all skilled tradesmen are over 55. They're retiring fast, and no one is there to replace them.

    Alabama's not alone. A few months ago in Atlanta I ran into Tom Vilsack, our Secretary of Agriculture. Tom told me about a governor who was unable to move forward on the construction of a power plant. The reason was telling. It wasn't a lack of funds. It wasn't a lack of support. It was a lack of qualified welders.

    In general, we're surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn't be. We've pretty much guaranteed it.
    My grandfather was a master boilermaker and I was lucky enough to inherit some fantastic tools from him when he passed away. (Most of them where subsequently stolen, but that’s another story)

    From I young age I've always helped my father do basic chores & repairs around the house like changing the brake pads of the car, welding a frame for a new gate and building a wall for the lapa.

    My knowledge of these things is barely adequate since there was a massive loss of knowledge from one generation to the next, but at least I know witch end of a screwdriver must point at the screw and that it’s not a great idea to weld barefoot.

    But for years now I’ve been astounded by how inept my contemporaries are with basic tool skills. I know people who still don’t know how to change a tyre. Hell, a colleague of mine loaded his new set of couches on a bakkie and dropped them off at my house since he didn’t know how to attach the legs!

    All the 1st world countries are running into this problem of acute skills shortages as a result of extremely liberal schooling systems that encourage learners to go for safe little desk jobs instead of learning a trade.

    Our school system locally is not only liberal it’s also riddled with inefficiencies and corruption. (The bulk of)school leavers nowadays have a massive sense of entitlement, no work ethic and can hardly string a coherent sentence together if you ask them to write a brief essay on why you should employ them at your company.

    But it’s not only the systems fault. Parents are not spending time with their kids to teach them even the most basic skills. As per the article the forces of supply and demand will make the services of a qualified, reliable plumber or electrician unaffordable to a lot of people.

    So next time you break something, try to fix it yourself, break it properly and pay attention when the professional fixes it for you.

    Your Thoughts?
    Last edited by Hfx; 2011/05/19 at 09:36 AM.
    »Hfx

  2. #2
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    well, it is the reality of the situation.

    Are things like woodwork and metalwork even taught at schools anymore?

    the problem is the perception that even kids have. people look down on 'manual laborers...'

    being a mechanic or a welder or a carpenter is no longer regarded as being a 'proper job...'

    and yes, there would be less of an unemployment problem if people had skills to make them employable - and thats all over the world...

    funnily enough, people are just not willing to take on a job either - they'd rather be unemployed than say, drive a truck for a few months to tick things over... weird...

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    I'm making a concerted effort to teach my two girls, 5 & 2, how to fix things. A dolls arm that came off, or a Series IIa fuel pump. Whatever needs fixing around the house. With the Landy, I'm sure they'll get plenty of practice.

    I think when they get married, THEY might be the 'handyman' in the house!!
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    I would actually be relatively happy if people could actually pick up a spanner and know which way to turn it...

    that would be a good start...

    from that point we can work onwards....

    I think ChrisF posted the other day that his 3rd year mechanical engineering students were not capable of changing a wheel

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    Thats why I charge proper rates for my labour. We are too quick to pull a "welder " off the street with no qualifications cos your too bloody stingy. Wait, its changing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apocalypse View Post
    I would actually be relatively happy if people could actually pick up a spanner and know which way to turn it...
    Only problem I have is that my three year old boys reckon the ring end of a large spanner makes a good hammer to use on SWAMBO's platkar!!

    But I must agree with everything said so far her, at this point am strongly recommending all 3 of my boys find a "trade"
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    While I agree wholeheartedly with all of the above... how many "manual labourer" type dads have said to their kids "I want something better for you my child" and then boasted that their little darlings are at Rhodes/Wits/Stellenbosch etc studying media studies/law/aroma therapy etc... it is the way of the world. Up until a few years ago I also wanted my son (aged 8) to go on to study some "worthy, lofty" path... in the last few years I too have become aware of the basic skills gap and would prefer him to do a trade.

    With the amount of poo in the world I think plumbing will always be needed, and VERY well paid.
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    Last week I interviewed a couple of technicians (qualified installers of electronic security equipment). During the interview with one of the chaps it came to light that he was the top student during a learnership, had worked 2 years for the employer and then resigned....he was unemployed for two years...I asked him if he didn't have any prospects during this time and he said that the salaries offered were too low and that he could not work for only R9 000 a month. He said it was tough, but he would rather holdout for a position that pays better...needless to say, he is still unemployed. My dad used to say: " hy kla met n witbrood onder die arm"!

    Shocking attitude. Sadly, I have found this from more than one individual. Poorly qualified trench diggers who proclaim to be technicians demanding huge salaries....We pay far above market related salaries, but demand highly skilled (and qualified) staff. Sadly, the highly skilled and qualified are far and few between!

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    I always hoped my 15yr old son would learn something when we are tinkering about at home

    It turned out he did, recently at school they were painting some walls as a special project turned out he was the only 1 out of 15 that knew how to paint the corners and cornishes of a room- in the end he was supervising even the teacher

    the best money spent was buying a 1979 Kawa KDx basket case
    took us 6 months to rebuild every minute I spent was a minute spent by son
    great bonding- now he gets p*ssed of with me if the spanners and sockets are not in the right sequence- well he told his 25 yr old nephew the other day that if there was one thing he learnt from the experience it is that if Dad say do not or do that he will listen because he learnt the hard way with bleeding knuckles and bruised ego

    Hey he even replaced the glowplugs on the Musso the other day
    installed an additional electric fan and an inverter... with my help of course

    and no I am no mechanic but was taught that common sense can't be taught or bought

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    Last week I interviewed a couple of technicians (qualified installers of electronic security equipment). During the interview with one of the chaps it came to light that he was the top student during a learnership, had worked 2 years for the employer and then resigned....he was unemployed for two years...I asked him if he didn't have any prospects during this time and he said that the salaries offered were too low and that he could not work for only R9 000 a month. He said it was tough, but he would rather holdout for a position that pays better...needless to say, he is still unemployed. My dad used to say: " hy kla met n witbrood onder die arm"!
    Shocking attitude. Sadly, I have found this from more than one individual. Poorly qualified trench diggers who proclaim to be technicians demanding huge salaries....We pay far above market related salaries, but demand highly skilled (and qualified) staff. Sadly, the highly skilled and qualified are far and few between!

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    I could not agree more with the statement that Apocalypse made about kids looking down on " manual labour".

    I feel a big problem is that when in school, you are constantly told that you will never make it in life unless you have some high-powered job. I have a professional qualification, as well as a trade or "manual" qualification, and if I had to choose all over when I left school, I would have started off with the trade qualification.

    People forget that the world was build by "manual labourers", and the world needs them to keep on turning.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Engel
    Thats why I charge proper rates for my labour. We are too quick to pull a "welder " off the street with no qualifications cos your too bloody stingy.
    This.

    If you’re too lazy or too much of a scrooge to either do a job yourself or appoint a proper artisan and rather go for the “painter/builder/electrician/glazier” lounging in front of your local Builders Warehouse then you deserve the patchy paint, cracked tiles and leaky roof that you got for a “bargain”.

    I admit that I ‘ve done in the past and I’ve always, ALWAYS regretted it.
    »Hfx

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vuurmaker View Post
    common sense can't be taught or bought

    This is so true, I am in a profession that does not require mechanical or any car related skills, but you dont need to go to university to get a degree in common sense.

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    And don't assume a university degree guarantees that!
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    Well, I can definitely relate to this Fred. This is my opinion from the other side of the generation gap.

    My father used to try fix things around the house when I was young but this stopped as I got older. I was however exposed briefly to it and did learn a few things here and there. My dad's skills were more limited to wood work and plumbing. I helped install our geyser in the house, doing all the mounting, installation and plumbing ourselves. I also helped him build the 2 car ports as well (simple design tho), as well as various painting and things. But that was about it and I was about 14 or so when he stopped doing stuff like that. We don't speak anymore either so I haven't really had anyone to speak to and ask about these sorts of things anymore.

    Now that I have got a bit older I have certainly felt like I missed out. I have always been the sort of person to want to know how each and every thing works and be able to understand everything about it, but I realised there are so many things I know so little about. Especially now that I bought my own 4x4, I sit and watch each and every thing that happens to it. I've learnt a lot too from Mr "Bos toe" Brand in my quest to educate myself on all things mechanical and I am very grateful for his knowledge, assistance and patience (he taught me how to service my bakkie this last weekend as well as change my CV boots the month before that). My next project is to learn to weld and I have got an old welder from my grandpa that I will use to practice with.

    But saying all that I am a lot better than some. My brothers are a computer programmer/chef and a musician, and they have NO idea how to even change a tyre. Their flat in CT is falling down around them and they have no idea how to fix any of it. Now the programmer at least earns a pile of cash so he is just too lazy to get it fixed, but I have NO idea what the musician is going to do later on in life if he can't afford it.
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    The artisan situation is this country is a complex problem.
    Artisans can't achieve a decent living standard in this country without owning their own business.
    Overseas an artisan can drive a decent car and live in a decent house in a decent neighbourhood. Not possible here.
    The only incentive for a prospective artisan in this country is to lay a foundation to help them with their own business later on.
    People always bitch about the quality of the trades but the reality is that the trades are exploited and nobody is prepared to pay for quality craftsmanship.
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    Very interesting thread this. Being a teacher I see this kind of 'don't care' attitude amongst most students. They grow up in a generation of computer games where if you ‘die’ you just try again, until you get a satisfactory result, no repercussions. You would be shocked to hear how some students (high school! Matrics!) sum up the world. They all want to go to university and earn HUGE salaries for sitting around and doing basically nothing. In some way this is the fault of our education system where they are given chance upon chance to do something, and get rewarded even when its not totally correct. And then of course there are the parents that do their projects for them (luckily in my subject most parents don’t know how!). I've always said to my students to go and choose something that will enable you to open your own business, then you 'write your own pay cheque'.

    I really applaud any effort on the side of a parent to help their children to become more self reliant. My dad is a qualified motor mechanic, so I grew up around cars and so on. Back then I hated working in the garage with him. Now I kick myself on a REGULAR basis for not doing so more often. He used to say ‘If you can fix it yourself, why pay somebody to do it?’ And if he REALLY got stuck, he’d get somebody who KNEW what they were doing.

    This upbringing has resulted in me doing everything myself, from servicing my own vehicles (including a major overhaul replacing bearings and broken piston on my Jetta a few years ago) to painting them (I totally redid my 1959 beetle from the ground up). I do all the DIY jobs around the house, and only call in some qualified help when I KNOW I’m stuck.

    I will do my best to teach my little girl the basics. At least she should be able to change a tyre or replace a plug on a lead.

    I remember reading somewhere that in South Africa the amount of apprentice mechanics has dropped dramatically over the last 15 years. One of the main reasons apparently is the hoops that an employer needs to jump through in order to be able to take an apprentice into service. Or so I hear? Maybe someone can comment on this?
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    Quote Originally Posted by petermoffat View Post
    And don't assume a university degree guarantees that!

    Yes definitely, I have met the most qualified individuals but them they have no common sense!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Rocher View Post
    Yes definitely, I have met the most qualified individuals but them they have no common sense!
    There is NO substitute for common sense

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    I was lucky enough to have a father that taught me how to work with my hands. Taught me not to be lazy and how to fix things.

    I will forever be gratefull to him!!

    One example comes to mind, my brothers and I was bored one school holiday and we told my dad that, the next day a big truck stopped infront of the yard with paving bricks and sand. The truck did not fit through the gate so my brothers and I carried bricks into the yard with wheelbarrows for a week and then layed paving for the other 3 weeks of the 4 week school holiday.

    I will never say I am bored again.

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