The Wall Street Journal published a piece stating that certain forgotten and despised professions are making a comeback in urban centers like Portland, Brooklyn, and Pittsburgh.
According to the WSJ, “gentrification” is causing young, educated workers to choose to take on jobs that had been seen as low-status, semi-manual professions, turning them into what sociologist Richard Ocejo calls “glamorous occupations.”
As young men and women leave college to work as butchers, craft brewers, bookbinders, furniture makers, and bartenders, Ocejo argues that young people are drawn to these jobs as a reaction to “the ephemerality of the digital age.” But what Ocejo seems to forget is that, as the education industry is inflated with an artificial demand mostly ignited by government-backed grants and easy loans, young people who were told they should go to college no matter what often leave universities absolutely unsure of what they will be doing next.
Sometimes, they look for jobs in their fields but a lack of success makes them desperate. Sometimes, they abandon what they studied for years in a heartbeat, choosing to do odd jobs and then settle, doing something that is both accessible and financially sustainable, but not overly complicated.
That’s why there are so many restaurant workers with college degrees. So many bartenders, baristas, and fishmongers who never even glanced at their credential again. Not because they may have been born to take on those occupations, but because they wouldn’t have gone to college if they hadn’t been told they should have.
When the government adopts policies that offer individuals extra incentives to take on a particular task, eliminating the upfront cost to obtain a certain degree, it eliminates the individual’s willingness to establish him or herself as their own person, fighting and working hard for whatever it is they wish to do or be.
By facilitating college education to the point that anyone can have a degree, no matter how low their performance might be, governments are harming these individuals. After all, not everyone truly wants a college education, but they might not be compelled to go find out for their own because who would turn down “free” money?
Just like not all of us were born to be doctors, many of us prefer occupations that involve skills better learned at an apprenticeship program or in a trade school. Others learn their craft entirely on their own, by watching online classes or studying at their own pace at home.
By inflating the demand for college degrees, bureaucrats are doing nothing but to inflate the cost of a college education while forcing young men and women into a life of debt. Instead of serving as a guide, college becomes a burden, putting the young and the educated in despair mode. Many move back with their parents while others choose to change their lives completely, taking on jobs they would have never imagined taking.
Instead of gentrification, what has been driving these young men and women into “unwanted” professions” is nothing but circumstance, as they leave college with little to no professional experience and no idea of what they are going to do to pay their student loans. In other words, they are being driven toward anything they can do thanks in part to government’s involvement with the higher education business.