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Published on December 8th, 2011 | by Leonard Jackson



Just before I decided to indulge myself with that “much-needed sabbatical” a few months ago a good friend sent me a video that he was sure I would appreciate – and he was absolutely correct. It’s Mike Rowe (one of my favorite entertainers) testifying before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Mike heads the program “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery channel and he has been featuring workers who are proficient in all sorts of unusual and demanding jobs. He has recently become involved with a new organization called “Discover Your Skills” which provides a web site (forum) that furnishes information and contacts for employment opportunities and educational courses for all sorts of skilled positions available in America today.

What he was addressing was the lack of talented craftsmen in the workplace who can actually build or fix anything that needs building or fixing. While thousands of college graduates are out of work there are thousands of jobs that could be filled by someone who has the necessary skills to build or repair or operate the products that people use and need everyday.

The reason I am interested in this particular video and the thinking behind the program is that this is something that I have been talking about for quite a while. Mr. Rowe just said it better than I could. Take a look at this video and you’ll see what I mean:

I really don’t have any particular animosity toward colleges and the education, or lack of, that they provide, but it just seems like there are a great number of “graduates” who just spent five years and upwards of $50,000 gaining a degree in Puppetry Arts or Bowling Industry Management running around trying to find a job when what they love to do (and are expert at) is in great demand.
I’m not sure when we decided that having a college degree, albeit it any degree, was absolutely essential to providing an adequate standard of living for yourself and your future family. The list is long of highly successful people in finance, social work, philanthropy and many other areas of life’s work that disproves this myth everyday.

Now don’t misunderstand my comments here. I think that there is nothing better than striving for knowledge in every walk of life (even puppetry arts). I can understand attending a university with no definite plan for the future (not many 19 year-olds have any idea what they want to do in adulthood), but my point is – I truly believe that we have blindly accepted a false premise that there is only one road to a successful life and, if you don’t take that route it will never be possible to achieve real happiness or success. We have been sold this bill of goods that the level of college education attained is directly proportionate to how far up the ladder of success you can go and, furthermore it is also most important which university you attend and how much you pay for that education. Baloney.

My message is to those folks who simply don’t want to go to college, are not interested in the extra-curricular activities available on college campuses, are deeply interested in a craft that they are becoming proficient at, but feel it is necessary to go, spend the money and hope to find something equally challenging in college life. I say – before you decide to appropriate a huge chunk of the family’s fortune go to and see if you might find a better start for your future. It might be life-changing.

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About the Author

As I prepare my “reentry” into the e-world of blogging, I am advised that I should provide my prospective audience with a brief biographical résumé covering my life’s work and future aspirations so that I, and my work, can be properly categorized and thus judged in the proper venue. Since I will be joining a new group in just a few short months, it came to my attention that for a quick summary I can cover my life span in 20 year segments that pretty well sum up the route that I took to get to where I am today. In December, the Lord willing, I will become a member of that esteemed group known as Octogenarians. . Now that may be a disturbing, even scary, pigeonhole for some folks to find themselves assigned to, but I’m beginning to realize some real benefits from being maturity advantaged. The first 20 years I grew up, was educated and began my married life and my career. Second period was about 20 years in the cotton business in Memphis, TN. Trading this commodity in the world’s largest inland cotton market. Third period was spent in the municipal bond industry in Memphis, Houston TX Chicago and finally to my present home in Kansas City, MO. The fourth 20 years I served as a registered investment adviser to a number of individual clients which I continue to do in a semi-retired capacity. In addition to all this, over all these years, I have been blessed with a loving wife of sixty years, four children, four grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and a menagerie of grand horses, dogs, cats and a donkey. Providentially, none of these, except of course my patient wife, are still living in the family home. And now the fifth period will be consumed in my new career. For the first time in all the years I have an opportunity to share my opinions with the world. I can truly express my thoughts without regard to any extenuating conditions. I can just say how I feel about any subject. How liberating. Let the blogging begin!!!! By the way – what I do in the next period remains to be seen and depends on how well I do in the fifth period.

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