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Bob Meade - Life's realities

  • Published in Letters

One of the best things you can do for someone is to give them a job. A job can require significant physical skills and detailed knowledge about a particular function. That could be as a carpenter, a plumber, a lumber jack, an automobile mechanic, or any other number of jobs. In the medical area, bright people spend up to 12 or 13 years after high school, learning and polishing their skills in their chosen specialty. While their physical requirement may not be the same as that of a carpenter, in many cases their need to be critically focused and precise in their movements for hours on end in an operating room, may even be more taxing on their body than what the carpenter endures. And in the case of the surgeon, another's life may hang in the balance. Every job brings with it a need for knowledge and effort. And, regardless of the field of endeavor, not everyone is as skilled or accomplished as their fellow workers. There is a natural "bell curve", or ranking of people based on their level of skills and abilities and their accomplishments. Normally, in any field, those who perform at the highest levels of skills and productivity are the ones who are paid the most.

Each job has a value in the marketplace, and that value is most often based on supply and demand. The level of training or education needed for the various jobs differs greatly. A person may become adept in one of the manual arts after apprenticing for three or four years under a journeyman in that field. In some trades, the state requires the apprentice first pass a comprehensive test to show that they are qualified to be a journeyman in their chosen field. In most cases, the process is rigorous enough that there is rarely an over abundance of qualified workers in any one of the skill sets. While there is competition to get work among those workers, the demand is often high enough that good wages are paid for their labor. In the case of physicians and surgeons, they must go through very costly and rigorous learning and training to become licensed in their fields. The supply of them is limited and hospitals, clinics, and research facilities not only compete for their services, the individuals themselves have the option of starting their independent practice, and that increases their competitive value in the marketplace. Other "professionals" are in law, accounting, engineering, computer technology, and a few other specialties. Which ever the professional skill set one chooses, there will still be a natural "bell curve" where the most competent and productive performers will command higher wages.

There is also a wide variety of what are called unskilled labor jobs. That label is not meant to demean in any way the individuals performing those jobs, it is meant to show the difference between those jobs and those that have a basic requirement of training and/or education in order to be licensed to work in certain fields. Examples of what are called unskilled workers are often in the service industries and agriculture. The supply and demand for these positions is generally quite different than those that require more training to develop their skill set. Because of the greater availability of people to do these jobs, the laws of supply and demand place less monetary value on them. Again, individual performance will dictate where in the "bell curve" the person fits, and he or she will be compensated accordingly

Young people in particular should be aware that their future earnings will be based on which of these categories they are in . . . unskilled, skilled, or professional. Each of these categories, these jobs, are essential to a functioning society and are to be respected. Not everyone is capable of becoming a skilled neurosurgeon. Not everyone has the interest or desire to become a skilled plumber or electrician. Not everyone wants to work in a service industry. It is up to the individual to figure out the field of work in which they want to spend a large part of their life.

Sadly, often times a person's station in life may have been determined by the decisions they made as a youngster, as a teenager. Didn't study hard for that exam? Or that other one? Or that other, other one? Was that lack of study reflected in your SAT score? Won't that affect what college you can get in to? Or if you can get into a college at all? Missed a lot of school because you overslept? Is oversleeping now a habit? Try being late when you're apprenticing with that master electrician or plumber. Sorry Charlie, we can't waste our time teaching a no show.

Every job is to be respected . . . just be aware that you get out of it commensurate with what you put into it . . . and it starts when you're a kid.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)