Monday, May 8, 2017


Last week we had a new floor installed in our livingroom, and carpeting for all three bedrooms, the hall and the stairs. Floran, born in Romania, and Nick of similar descent, laid the flooring with acute precision. Each plank and molding, every placement, cut, and connection, was set as if painted on a canvas then carefully scrutinized before executing another 'brushstroke.' These men were in no hurry to finish the job but rather had intentions of creating an exquisite masterpiece.  They worked in beautiful harmony, seeming to know each other's needs without a single word spoken. As I marveled at their expertise, I couldn't help but think of how devoid our country is of skilled craftsmen today.

Dave and Brennan planned out the carpet installation before even bringing one roll of product through the door. They prepared each room so that they could work efficiently without having to spend time on moving furniture more than once. They removed the old stuff quickly, and then began to seamlessly transform each space into an elegant, plush surface. Watching Brennan cover the stairway with such artistic accuracy, I was again reminded that in today's high-tech world people who work with their hands have somehow been relegated to the uneducated unfortunates. THIS COULD NOT BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH IN MY OPINION!

Funny how things that are relevant to my point of view seem to pop up exactly when needed. In this morning's Tribune-Review, Debra Erdley's front page article, 'No catch' academy offers security, substantiates everything I've presented in this post's first two paragraphs. According to Erdley, The Apprentice School in Newport News,VA, one of only a handful in the U.S., has been training young men and women for over 100 years to become skillful in shipbuilding-related jobs. This educational institution is closely aligned with Huntingdon Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding, turning out professionals who can not only do the required work but do it to perfection.

Each year The Apprentice School receives over 4000 applications, but unfortunately can accept just 250 lucky high school graduates. Now here's the 'no catch', these chosen few pay no tuition, but are considered to be Huntingdon Ingalls employees, are paid a salary, and are guaranteed a job upon completing the four year program. No student loans to burden them over a lifetime, no sir-ree!

For years I've been saying that college is not for everybody and should only be considered if going into a specialized area of education. Too many college graduates come out of school with no more clarity of what it is they want to do than when they first entered their respective hallowed halls of higher learning. There is a viable alternative however, one of providing our young people with apprenticeships that will produce skilled craftsmen for hundreds of workplaces in need. More and more schools like the one in Newport News, whose missions would be to set up training courses to meet the needs of our country's growth and development are the way to go. Bricklayers, plumbers, oil riggers, electrical engineers, flooring experts, and carpet installers to name just a few are in high demand, and would be better educated with hands-on experiences taught by a master craftsman instead of sitting in a college classroom for hours on end merely reading and listening to what their prospective careers will entail.

On a personal note, living in my Zedo's house from birth, I had the distinct privilege of watching him build furniture, fix leaky pipes, and wire electrical outlets flawlessly. He cemented walkways, created trellises for grapes and climbing ivy, put in a retaining wall, and grew a garden that could feed an army, and he could do all of this by acquiring those skills from watching and learning from his father. My Zedo never spent a day in college, and yet he was a master craftman in building, plumbing, wiring, masonry, and agriculture.

Let's return to the days of yore when apprentices became masters that provided our country with the skilled workers needed to complete the jobs in all areas with precision and beauty!

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