Although it gets far too little coverage in the mainstream media, our current unemployment problems are made worse by a growing skills gap. Millions of jobs are going unfilled because there are not the skilled workers to fill them. Increasingly these jobs are in trades and manufacturing businesses such as woodworking. Our education system has done a good job of convincing everyone they need a college education and that "blue collar" jobs can't possibly provide a good income. The result is lots of college students saddled with lots of debt and competing for few jobs or no jobs while potentially great manufacturing and trade jobs go wanting. One solution that has been advanced is to bring back the apprenticeship system to encourage on-the-job training. Here's a great discussion on this subject at the Wall Street Journal. But, as the report explains, apprenticeships continue to decline. It's a real challenge.
In the woodworking industry, we are making progress with the Woodworking Career Alliance and skills standards passport program. But that is not enough. Students need to learn earlier in their educational lives about ALL of the alternatives available, including college, trade schools, apprenticeships, and entrepreneurial opportunities.