A return to trade schools
When vocational schools became the butt of a joke Americans lost something fundamental.
Many public schools now have programs allowing kids to train and get certified so they can walk into well-paying apprenticeships and go on to a strong career. But it's just the beginning. It's still seen as an option for weak students rather than a career path to take pride in, and there's a clear divide in socioeconomic status as far as who's pushed towards trade and who's pushed towards college. There are also educational expectations that can get a great welder or talented plumber kicked from the program if they don't maintain a solid grade in English or history.
I wish I'd had a trade option presented to me when I was young. Instead I'm 41 with mounting debt getting a PhD - partially to stand out from the crowd of MSWs - and hoping to work as many hours a week as possible with as few breaks as possible to pay this debt down and contribute to my family.
It's incredible to think that we assign stigma to skilled work that pays well and provides essential services.