For #ThrowbackThursday, some reflections on what practicing a trade involves, and why it's a serious form of human capital development.  Start with Instapundit, reinforcing a regular theme:
I should note, though — as several readers have pointed out — that you can’t just “decide” to go into skilled trades any more than you can just decide to become a lawyer or a doctor. It varies, of course, but most trades take years of practice and a considerable degree of native talent. But it’s certainly true, as [Intel's Andy] Grove notes and as others have said, that we’ve systematically undervalued such work for the past 50 years or more.
"Undervalued" is an understatement. Mr Grove correctly points out that developing human capital takes work, and resources.
Most people don’t even realize the need for more highly trained workers. The assumption remains that technical education is for less intelligent people. The first item cut from educational budgets is vocational education. People are required to be suitably trained for their work requirements, and yet the classes that are required for this are cut to the bone. In some instances, students are halfway through the course when funding is cut and then they are sent home. We create a damned obstacle course for people who want to work!
That's a second obstacle course, after the first obstacle course, which Eric Scheie of Classical Values correctly calls out as a misperception.
While the universities are filled with [aspirants to the clerisy], local community colleges are inundated with white working class kids seeking to obtain for themselves what they failed to get from the public schools: basic literacy and numeracy — and job skills which are of actual use in the real world.

Aside from the irony that anyone with a high school degree should have to go to college in order to learn to read and write, a perfect example of a valuable real-world skill is welding. Public school teachers (who reflect the view of the educrat class) tend to hold such “dirty” and “dangerous” work in disdain, and they steer kids away from it. Guidance counselors attempt to push them into universities where they go into a lifetime of debt for worthless degrees that impart zero job skills. But some of the kids are smarter than that. They realize that if you have a skill that is worth something in the real world, you can actually feed your family.

They also know something that the Occupy movement (often holders of useless degrees) has missed: that the educational system’s institutional bias against promoting real world skills has led to shortages — in some instances not of jobs, but of skilled workers to fill them. Such as welders.
Insert the obligatory reminders that it's a waste to have to pay for high school twice, and that academicians who hold the trades in disdain are probably afraid of power tools.  I persevere.

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