Blue Collar 101

By Randy Grider
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I can remember how high school teachers and guidance counselors treated students differently based on whether or not they planned to attend college. College-bound students garnered more attention and praise from school teachers. Kids with vocational dreams largely went unheralded by school officials and their peers.

I graduated from a rural high school in 1984. Even though there were lots of vocational opportunities, the pressure to go to college was evident. More than half of my 81 classmates attended college after graduation. Some made it, and others dropped out after a while and found jobs. I wonder how many of those who dropped out would take the same paths today if they had all the facts and the encouragement they needed to make good decisions.

Now, I’m all for furthering one’s education. It makes sense to be as well-rounded as possible. But college degrees with the promise of an office job aren’t for everyone. We have a growing skilled labor shortage elitist educators can’t seem to grasp. Just ask almost any trucking fleet or construction company about problems in their respective businesses, and they’ll quickly tell you that finding and keeping good workers is a top concern.

Recently a coworker pointed me to a website that addresses the skilled labor market’s challenges. Joe Lamacchia, owner of a multi-million dollar landscaping company in Holliston, Mass., created this site three years ago as a resource for blue-collar careers.

On the website, he lists valuable information about trades for people who want to know more about being truck drivers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc.

Lamacchia readily admits that he barely graduated from high school and sees the current education system as a barrier to those like himself. He now works with educators – many of whom agree with him – to promote blue-collar careers.

“Lately I see a big problem, and this is the problem that I want to address. I don’t like how the schools of our country all want our kids to go off to four-year schools to be white-collar workers placed in cubicles and studying computers all day. Not only do I hear this from my friends and family, I have seen it first hand with my own children at their schools,” he says on his website.

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Lamacchia has gained a lot of attention with Blue Collar and Proud of It. He has been featured on CNN, Fox Weekend Live, CBS Evening News and in Time, the Wall Street Journal and other large daily newspapers around the country.

“If you look around at our surroundings, you see a lot of goods and things. People have made furniture, cars, houses, appliances, etc., etc. This is hands-on work, old time craftsmanship,” he says. “Sure, a machine plays a role, but did you ever stop and think, someone had to make that machine