Let's reshape view of blue-collar jobs
Posted: April 7, 2017
A Letter to the Daily Herald Editor
A March 23 editorial published by the Daily Herald, "Community colleges help students find jobs on the road and in the trades," is right on target -- but the concept has much wider reach into advanced manufacturing that continue to be unrecognized opportunities.
The editorial talks about the value provided by community colleges and vocational education's role in leading to good career opportunities. At the Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance, we have continuously advocated on behalf of innovative industries. DuPage County is home to a number of small and large manufacturers. There is a wealth of opportunity that exists in the industry and great training programs being offered through our community colleges. College of DuPage offers everything from associate degrees to certification and vocational skills programs; several of their programs work directly with employers to ensure the skills being taught in the classroom appropriately prepare students for the workplace.
Choose DuPage encourages the next generation to consider the field of manufacturing. Jobs are becoming more technologically savvy, require expert training on high tech equipment and be adaptable to an advanced workplace. The days of using a hammer are long gone for the average manufacturer -- positions in today's shop room floors are advanced, they use technology, and the jobs pay well… usually without any student debt. According to the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, the average manufacturing employee in Illinois earns about $25,000 more than the average worker in other industries, yet many manufacturing jobs remain unfilled. We need to do a better job of communicating the good jobs, wages, benefits and opportunities that exist in the manufacturing industry.
Evolving technology is leading the way to new and exciting opportunities. I encourage us all to reshape our perception of trade industries and manufacturing -- these are no longer "Blue Collar Jobs" -- but rather, "White Coat Professions."
President & CEO