It should go without saying, yet bears repeating: Blue collar trades are every bit as critical to our culture as the white collar professions. We need both and we need a balance between the two. One depends on the other and they feed off of each other. Each entity cannot exist without the existence of the other.

Mutual cooperation and respect between the two entities only enhances the relationship even further. Productivity – job creation – wealth creation – prosperity – are all within reach now. The end product – the final result of this collaboration – being the quality of life we enjoy and have learned over time to take for granted.

The problem is that as vital as it is to have skilled technicians involved in blue collar professions, our culture all too often points to a college or university degree as not just the best possible future for some, but for all. Nearing graduation, high schools sometimes ‘advertise’ that 90% or more – possibly even 100% – of their graduating senior class students are heading to college.

This boasting may be warranted to some but in reality it more than borders on being counter-productive. There is no balance of skilled white collar and blue collar professions in the situation that we’re facing now because society is obsessed with the false belief that every graduating high school student must attend a traditional college or university and pursue a degree.

This obsession can be condensed into the following message – a message that every high school student hears loud and clear – because our culture prefers to steer them in only one direction:

A college or university awarded diploma directly equates to the recipient’s future financial success. No other option will. All other choices are secondary. All possible alternatives are to be avoided, denigrated, and banished from consideration.

And where does this narrow-minded and shameful viewpoint lead our future generations? Where does it lead us as a nation?

While we’re contemplating these answers, ask yourself this question:

How does one put a ‘value’ on a certain profession?

Let us take an example – From the white collar professions – a surgeon, and from the blue collar – an aviation mechanic.

Both are extremely knowledgeable, highly trained, and skilled at their respective positions. They both can be referred to as being ‘hands-on’ in every sense of the term.

Surgeons repair damage to the human body and possibly save countless lives in the process over the course of their careers. They repair what they can, but in certain cases, replacement of an organ is the only option if the damage is severe enough.  Every patient a surgeon operates on places total trust in that surgeon and his abilities. Their lives are literally in the surgeon’s gifted hands. The patient will not only hope the surgery went well, they will expect it because they know this is the surgeon’s area of expertise and specialization. This is what they do. The patient also knows that no one else can take the surgeon’s place.

They know that they are invaluable to society.

The aviation mechanic is responsible for the safe operation, maintenance, and repair of the aircraft or helicopters in their care. So every single individual – whether it’s a regular commercial passenger, a VIP, a foreign dignitary, or a SEAL team on a mission in Iraq – implicitly trusts that mechanic with their very lives. If that plane or helicopter experiences mechanical failure due to the mechanic’s negligence or incompetence, it could end up colliding into the side of a mountain, being lost at sea, or possibly be forced to land in enemy territory. The mechanic knows this. This is what they do. Again, lives hang in the balance.

In this respect, by simply doing their jobs to the best of their abilities on a daily basis, both the surgeon and the aviation mechanic save lives. Their ‘value’ to society is limitless. They each do their job correctly and human lives are safe-guarded. They do not and lives are lost. They both deal with potential life and death scenarios every day.

They both are invaluable.

To think otherwise is avoiding reality. We need balance in the workforce now and forever. Our world is co-dependent on both the white and the blue collar professions working as one cohesive unit. Endlessly praising one group while marginalizing the other is not a solution. It is a problem – a problem we all need to recognize and deal with using a common sense approach in comprehending what our culture really needs and values.