Friday, May 11, 2012

The Apprentice

No, not the TV show hosted by America's first narcissist, Donald Trump.

When I was in junior high, the entire seventh grade class (There was only about forty of us.) were forced on  buses for a field trip to Lenape Tech.  Lenape was a county run, trades high school.  The morning sessions were devoted to all the usual classes, math, history, English, while the afternoons were devoted to learning a trade.  I remember that we were divided by sex.  The boys were shown the auto shop, welding, television repair lab, while the girls were taken to the beauty and cooking classes.  I don't know what would have happened if one of the boys had asked about being a hair dresser or one of the girls had wanted to take a run at a welding career.  Oh, how things have changed.

Before trade schools, there were apprenticeships.   Young boys (mostly) would be sent off to learn a trade from a master craftsman.  In exchange for a decade or so of free labor, the young man would be taught cabinet making, or watch repair, or some other useful profession.  Anyone who has ever read Dickens would know that apprenticeships were also offered for business careers.   Keeping those books balanced isn't easy, and in a world where almost no one went to college, a job that didn't involve manual labor, like accounting, was learned by doing.

This is a fairly old picture. But how old?  Is this young man taking a shop class or has he begun his working life as an apprentice?  One thing is for sure.  He's not a recent college grad, working for free as an intern, so that some business can avoid adding an extra pay check to the books.  No wonder recent grads can't find paid employment when so  many of them are willing to work for nothing.  My rant of the day...internships are a scam!


  1. Yes, non-paying internships shouldn't be allowed. I read of so many people working at publishers for free, hoping to break into the business, dying thing that it is. I'm really stunned that this is the direction we're heading. In the early '90s I remember that companies would hire someone until the benefits would kick in and then they'd let them go. I just can't believe this is where it's heading. But then, my work is now done in India for pennies on the dollar.

  2. Hello,

    Just wanted to say that I just found this site and love the old pictures.