Today is Labor Day in the US (note US spelling) which celebrates the contribution of workers socially and economically and “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organisations” – (US Department of Labor).
And how about across the waters in the UK? How are we celebrating our workers?
After 3 years of trying to recruit for her textile factory Deborah Meadon highlighted the image problem around manual work -“It is about people not being interested in manual work. At 16 or 17 people are still thinking about what is cool…” Certainly the vocational training option in schools has attracted a second tier image over the Aladdin’s cave of academic subjects leading to university, even though the latter no longer guarantees employment. In 2009 the Crafts Council audit revealed a severe skills shortage in the UK.
The value we give to vocational learning, ‘blue collar’ work, skilled craftmanship and manual labour, dictates how we perceive the virtue of ability and skills and informs our relationship with the material world. We’ve become so used to the convenience and immediate accessibility of everything we need or want, we’ve forgotton how to ‘do’ for ourselves.we’ve become passive and dependent.
Maybe if we put more value on the vocational and manual tasks necessary to our lives, we might not find it so difficult to recruit for essential jobs, young people would have the ability to make real choices about their careers developing their own true potential rather than pursuing a course dicated by the ‘shoulds’ of others, and we might have a better appreciation and respect of the material assets we so constantly strive to accumulate.
Holby city star Jeremy Edwards hit the headlines when helping a friend in his landscape gardening business – “I really don’t see the shame in manaual labour”. What a shame he had to say that.
For more about helping young people find the right paths, click here.