HagermanHOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (4/14/18) — Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corp. President Ray Hagerman penned the following column that appeared in the EDC April newsletter:


I’m not talking about Darwinism or Creationism, I’m talking about evolution in our thinking.

Remember when back in the late 70s and early 80s (c’mon, it’s okay to date ourselves), when zero population growth was all the rage?

The thought leaders in government circles were concerned that if the baby boom continued, we would run out of land in this country to adequately handle the coming population. People had fewer children so as to be “responsible.” In addition, we have aborted almost an entire generation. That isn’t a political statement, it’s just a fact.

Both of these irresponsible behaviors have spawned a “Baby Bust.” We do not have enough people in this country to replace the people leaving the workforce. Just in this community we have over 500 jobs in the pipeline and a hiring event this month with over 715 jobs being recruiting for.

Back then, we thought zero population growth was going to preserve our way of life. We were wrong. This time, the evolution in our thinking needs to happen regarding four-year college degrees. In the last 30 years, we have been sold on the idea that we and our children needed college degrees to preserve our way of life. Not enough people went into the trades, and “factory” work was viewed as undesirable.

Today’s factories and yesteryear’s factories are light years apart. Even at the factory, tool boxes are being replaced by laptops. The trades still require a lot of “hand work” but technology has advanced there as well. Both the trades and the factories are very good jobs that can provide a solid standard of living and a bright future. Neither requires a four-year degree (and both can be done without incurring student loan debt), but they do require a commitment to lifelong learning.

Our thinking needs to evolve to the notion that it’s okay to get a job in the trades, and it’s okay to get a factory job. Just keep learning no matter what you do. But don’t just believe me, ask Kentucky Secretary of Labor Derrick Ramsey — his speech was all about our lack of workforce for the available jobs. But, I’m not asking anyone to think differently than I think. I worked at a sheet metal shop during college in the 1980s and really liked it, but my parents insisted I graduate and go into a white collar profession.

Believe me, my thinking evolved a long time ago. If I’d been a bit more rebellious, I’d be living in a bigger house and driving a nicer car by now.

SurfKY News
Information provided by Ray Hagerman

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