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Short Term Thinking?Part 1

The availability of jobs in states where oil is booming is luring many high school graduates into the industry instead of pursuing a 4-year degree at a college or university, or even a 2-year degree at a technical school.

It is understandable why high school graduates are taking the jobs while they can: nationwide unemployment among young adults is at more than 12 percent, college tuition is soaring (due to a multitude of reasons), and jobs in the oil and gas drilling industry can start at $50,000 a year.

Instead of spending an extraordinary amount pursuing higher education and a degree, while also likely going into debt resulting from student loans, these youth perceive it as a better decision to make money instead of spend it.

Now, there is nothing wrong with this decision—as the expression goes, “each to their own.”

However, unless these youth intend on staying in the oil and gas industry their entire lives, the training they receive in lieu of a higher education will be essentially useless in the future. Coupled with the short-term nature of oil and gas drilling booms, many who are employed by the industry will have to be laid off in order for the industry to make money. This will result in a large influx of workers into the unemployment system who are under-educated for the pressing needs of employers.

It is entirely possible that these youth who are entering the oil and gas industry will pursue a 2- or 4-year degree from a technical school or college after stints working, building a bank account which can sustain that pursuit, but the likelihood of that is small; it is always more difficult to return to schooling after taking a break.

Higher education isn’t for everyone, and that is fine—there will always be a need for people who prefer work over college, and the economy and country could not survive without them.

However, en masse, it is going to be difficult for these workers in the future. Following the philosophical lead of the oil industry, these workers are taking the short-term benefits, sacrificing themselves to long-term consequences.

To be continued…

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