In the past 20 years, the mad rush for a college education has resulted in the worst job market for grads in decades.

That is according to the Wall Street Journal. In recent years, the hiring of college grads for entry-level positions has dropped by 45%. Today the relative worth of a college education is lower than at any point in history.

That flies in the face of people of my generation who were determined to secure a degree for each of our offspring. Lana and I were very proud when our daughter Shayla went into nursing and son Landan became a teacher, but in truth neither will likely ever make an income to match their father's. I chose to work in construction and made good money doing it.

These days people who have the talent to work with their hands are in a position of power. A good electrician, builder or mechanic can demand a better wage than many with college degrees. A recent study showed that up to 78% never even use their degrees for work. No other place will you get so little return for your investment.

Psychology majors have found the data entry skills they learned while pursuing their studies are more valuable in the work force than their degree. Beginning pay for data entry is around $60,000 while a psyche major can only hope to start at $40,000.

The degree that is turning in the most income is agriculture. The law, art, social services and other popular pursuits are at the bottom of hiring lists. Job fairs where top level head hunters vie for the best performing grads are mostly a thing of the past.

Skilled tradesmen are becoming ever more in demand. A few years back we had our heat and A/C system completely replaced. Two men showed up to do the work. The senior fellow, a man in his 50s, did little but his assistant, who was barely 20, was a buzz saw.

The kid was so efficient, he amazed me. When I told him so, he said he was only doing that work to help pay for his college. "Look," I said, "you are an A/C wizard living in Florida. You will never be out of work and can command top dollar." I don't think he bought it. What a shame. He will have a difficult time getting that kind of return from a degree.

Today the cost of attending a university is prohibitive and usually leaves students with many years of debt. Those years could be better served earning. Let's face it, not all kids are cut out for college. Instead of butting their heads into a brick wall, they may be better off learning a trade. We will always need plumbers, brick layers and carpenters.

If you have a youngster in the family who shows talent in a manual endeavor, you might just think of guiding that person toward the trades. If the rush to college continues, we will eventually run out of those willing to work with their hands. It only takes one person to design a building, but you need 50 or so to construct it.

Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, “The World’s Greatest Beach” and “I Swear the Snook Drowned.” Email questions and comments to or call (386) 441-7793.

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