Even though the U.S. economy has slowly improved since the low of the Great Recession in 2008, here at the Trustee’s office we still see evidence that finding good job opportunities remains a challenge for many of our citizens. Because of that we are always looking for ways to improve our clients’ chances at getting a good job.
When I graduated from high school it was easy to find work at one of the businesses in or around Fort Wayne. The wages at many of those jobs allowed you to attain what were then considered middle-class staples like a nice home, a decent car, a retirement plan and an annual vacation. On those jobs you could provide or at least help with the expenses of the higher education of your children.
Jobs were plentiful and more easily obtained back then. Places like Lincoln Life, International Harvester, Magnavox, B.F. Goodrich, Essex, Rea Magnet Wire, General Electric, Joslyn Steel, Tokheim, NIPSCO, Indiana and Michigan, General Motors, General Telephone, The City of Fort Wayne and smaller businesses that supported them all seemed like they were constantly hiring. I have a brother who put in applications at several factories when he graduated from high school. The day after he was hired at one factory, another one called him and offered employment.
Today most of those companies are no longer considered the “hiring giants” they once were in Fort Wayne. Many people say that no matter where they look they are not able to find the kind of solid jobs that my generation did, especially without an education. Even those with diplomas and higher education can have trouble finding good work. More and more I am hearing that we are in a “gig economy,” where people hold one job for a short time before having to move on to their next gig.
Education is not a guarantee, but it definitely improves your chances of finding a better paying job. My children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren have far surpassed their parents as far as completing advanced college degrees, and most of them who have received college degrees have higher living standards than those who haven’t gone to college. It’s a given that having more education increases one’s chances of finding a job and of not having to work for minimum wage. To be competitive in the market it is important that job seekers distinguish themselves by increasing their level of education.
And education does not have to mean college. Trade unions and technical industry representatives say that many jobs are out there, but the available workers need training. Apprenticeship programs and other coursework can help fill those training needs. And it’s important that young students get a good background in math and science while in grade and high school to prepare for that training and for the jobs it leads to.
It’s been said before, but I say it again because I believe it so strongly: education is the civil rights issue of today and of the future. Education of all forms is the best way that we will keep our citizens and our children competitive and productive in this, our rapidly evolving economy.
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