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John Ratzenberger: #BringBackShopClass (Video)

The Skilled Labor Crisis
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It’s a little known fact: the average mechanics age is now 58.

As America’s ivory towers harbor snowflakes in bubble-wrapped gender studies safe spaces, the tenured decided long ago our kid’s didn't need tangible real world skills beyond organizing diversity drum circles.

With hardly any students learning skilled labor it makes us wonder how they are able to torque wrench at Burning Man. Schools neglected to teach kids how to use their hands for something besides swiping right or left and now America is losing it’s competitive edge.

John Ratzenberger’s four decades of impressive television and film work includes playing a lovable mailman, a voice in literally every Pixar film, a reality TV star, and various parts in iconic films such as The Empire Strikes Back and Superman. In recent years, John’s focus has been alerting America on how the educational system is not only failing kids, but American society.

I caught up with John at last weekends Politicon in Pasadena, CA.

John shared his thoughts on how Millennials are the first generation who haven’t learned how to use tools.

We are running out of trades people. We are going to be crisis mode in just 5 years. The day will come when clean water won’t be coming out of the faucet. We are raising useless adults who can’t do anything.

There are many jobs available; from construction to upgrading and repairing infrastructure, to welders, to building and operating heavy equipment such as cranes. Yet, we no longer teach our kids how to use tools.

In fact, the image of blue collar tradesmen has been denigrated by cultural elites and educators (but I repeat myself) who decided some time back that shop class or learning trades is not worthy of our children.

Manufacturing is not something we aspire to as globalization has resulted in cheap labor performed in far-flung regions, allowing Americans to focus almost entirely on service sector careers. Meanwhile our elites preach environmental clean-up of those far-flung regions as polluters choke their non-EPA regulated atmosphere with dirty factories making products bought by Americans.

Ratzenberger spoke in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee hearing last month.

“The most repeated complaint today from potential employers is that it’s impossible to train someone for any of the jobs available when they graduate from high schools everywhere without the ability to even read inches and fractions from a simple ruler” he said. “If the average age of the people that keep our nation and the nation’s infrastructure working is 58 years old, then how long do we have before it all stops?”

John has not only spoken out about this issue, but has significantly invested his own resources. His serves as Senior Fellow at Center for America where he refers to a survey by The Nielson Company:

"103 large U.S. manufacturing firms found that on average, the shortage of skilled workers will cost each company $63 million over the next five years, some as much as $100 million. These costs include training and recruiting, followed by problems caused by lower quality and resulting decreases in customer satisfaction. Manufacturers and builders cannot afford to utilize under-skilled workers without increasing many types of severe liability risks."

He believes the effort to tackle this challenge must start locally. First we must support local training programs. We wants to encourage employers to hire those who graduate with skills that match the needs of the community. Then we can improve the job prospects of our youth while benefiting the entire economy.