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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 10, 2015 at 2:25 PM

Minimum wage: Certain trades are a better way to lift people out of poverty

I have some ideas about how to lift some of the underprivileged kids from poverty [“We have a fixation on income inequality,” Opinion, Feb. 4]. We had two young men in our family at different times who were saved by a wonderful program in Highline Public Schools. They both struggled mightily to reach mid-high school and then were ready to drop out because they were failing.

But at that point they were allowed to pick a craft, and began in the Puget Sound Skills Center in welding. Now, several years later, they both have wonderful jobs and are supporting their little families. If they hadn’t both been given this opportunity, I’m sure they’d be among the unemployed or poorly employed. Even if they had started out in some menial job making minimum wages, I doubt very much that an increase in that minimum wage would have seen them taking advantage of educational opportunities. An increase of $2 or $3 an hour would not have helped, and by then they would have been away from school and getting on with their lives.

I don’t understand why that opportunity isn’t offered to more students who are definitely not college material. We put so much a stress on “you gotta get a college degree to be a success.” That’s not true. We are always going to need mechanics, plumbers, carpenters, landscapers, caregivers, electricians, truck drivers, railroad workers and nurses aids. We should be giving these kids the chance to learn a trade early in life.

This is done in other countries and I don’t understand why it isn’t done here.

Shirley Annette, Renton

Comments | More in Election | Topics: college, education, Minimum Wage

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