Drew and I are sitting here watching Michael Moore on the Piers Morgan Tonight show. I haven’t watched this show since Howard Stern was on. Piers is taking questions from the audience, many of them are unemployed academic types like journalists. It got me thinking:
Are American college graduates too fluffy and academic?
Are people afraid to work hard?
I work in the construction industry as a safety professional. My jobsites are full of middle aged journeymen, there’s very few apprentices or workers under 30 years old. In a few years, we will have a shortage of quality labor. Whenever I get the chance to talk with high school age kids I encourage them to consider specialty trades like pipefitters, electricians and operators. You can make more money after a two-year apprenticeship than a four-year college graduate will make when they enter the workforce! And you’ll probably have less stress.
Construction workers have given me many gems of (unsolicited) advice and points to ponder:
Aren’t you glad you went to college?
I wasn’t hired for my BRAIN!
I don’t want to be a foreman (or superintendent), I enjoy leaving work AT WORK.
Most of these guys love their job. The first two comments demonstrate their good sense of humor.
We all know the kids in high school who are not cut out for a four-year degree. I took German for my four years of high school. The German “gymnasium” and vocational school options for high school students interested me. “Gymnasium” prepared students to enter a traditional university while vocational school matched students with a trade and apprenticeship program. In high school, I wished America would adopt a similar system. It seemed to me that a four-year degree was the only option after graduation and anyone doing anything differently was a loser.
I don’t work with losers.
I work with highly skilled craftsmen and will do anything to keep them safe and uninjured. They do jobs that computers and robots cannot do.
In answer to my question “are people afraid to work hard?” Drew answered that people don’t want to work at an unsafe job.
Even if I’m doing everything I can to keep workers safe, I can still be overruled. Most safety professionals are employed in an advisory capacity. We make recommendations to project and executive management and those managers can ultimately make their own decision.
Why would anyone decide AGAINST employee safety?
I’ll have to write more blog posts about safety philosophy. For now, I will give you the simple answer:
Do a simple Google search for construction injuries or fatalities in your city. Most of the time, there will be a lack of something: no shoring in a sewer ditch, no harness on the window washers.
Shoring, harnesses and other safety equipment cost money. A supervisor or his crew will take risks. If the task is completed with no injuries, no problem! The supervisor is a hero. Couple that risky supervisor or crew with weak enforcement and we have a recipe for disaster.
Company executives, dare I say “the 1%,” traditionally want regulators off their back. Regulations cost money, either in preventing the fines or paying them.
I want to see the 1% put their people before profits. The fines will be less or nonexistent. The regulators can assume a consultative role. I think the paychecks will still be there, which is really what’s important, right?