EDITORIAL: Working by hand produces value

We need to teach our young people early the importance of physical labours

All around us, we hear the constant discussion about how to best prepare our young people to become productive members of society: give them the skills they’ll need to succeed in the work force and get them trained so they can work in industries where there are actually jobs available.

If we really want to address this so-called “skills shortage” amongst our up-and-coming workforce, maybe we should be encouraging a different type of learning – or at least diversifying teaching approaches – earlier in our children’s education, and more often.

If we’re finding that young people don’t want to go into trades careers because they’ve never seen the value of labour in making the world go ’round, let’s show them that – and get them seeing it earlier in their lives.

For our front-page story in today’s Gazette, students at Pearson International College who recently crafted a 26-foot voyageur canoe were happy to tell us about the experience and the value of working with their hands.

We need to encourage more of this kind of hands-on learning, both in school and at home – and not limit it to those students who show interest in the trades.

There are some great Co-Op programs available for students once they reach high school – some of which they can even take for university credit to give them a head start on their chosen career.

But we still won’t see enough kids being interested in taking those programs and pursuing those careers if we don’t turn them on to the value of working with their hands earlier in life. We need to show them the value of creating physical, useful things rather than focusing solely on teaching theories and concepts.

At the very least, we need to end the misconception we propagate as a society that academia is somehow of higher importance or value than the trades, or that trades should be seen as a fallback plan for someone who can’t make it in university. We can start to do this by showing our kids early on the value of creating things with hard, physical work and co-operation with others.

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