The present strenuous condition of manufacturing finds the supply of skilled labor entirely inadequate to meet the demand, and employers are obliged to accept even the most ordinary applicants and pay them full journeymen's wages, that orders may be filled without too great delay.
The city of Boston recently opened a free employment bureau, and during the first two days, over 1500 applicants for work were registered, of this number about 1100 were young men, physically able and willing to work, but possessing no vocation; that is, were classed as "unskilled." Quite a large proportion of this number had received a common school education; a smaller number were graduates of grammar and high schools. All professed to be anxious for work of any kind, but unable to obtain it, largely owing to lack of skill.
The coincidence of these two conditions points a lesson to every youth in the country; one also, which parents should consider to a far greater extent than is generally the case. Had the applicants for work at the employment agency been trained in any of the leading trades, all would have been able to obtain employment at good wages, and the manufacturers of the country would be able to enlarge their output to more nearly meet the demands.
The underlying cause for a lack of skilled labor and an excess of the unskilled, may be, to quite a large extent, traced to the desire of school graduates to obtain a "position," and "overalls" are not looked upon with much favor. The error in such views is not seen until later in life, when the skilled mechanic, shop foreman or superintendent enters a store and from a Swell filled purse, pays a former school companion for a tool or article purchased.
The difference between a skilled craftsman and a store or office clerk lies in the fact that the former possess in his skill something for which there is always a demand, and which alone will bring advancement and increased reward. It differs from the knowledge of merchandise or office routine acquired by a clerk, in having a much wider field and more fixed scale of remuneration, making the matter of employment largely one of skill rather than locality or time.
The clerk without employment, on the other hand, must search until an opening is found of a like or similar nature to that for which he has been trained. Conditions may be such that this is a very difficult thing to do, and the personal necessities so pressing that some other and less desirable kind of work be taken.
In the way just mentioned arise that large class of "unskilled," or only partially skilled or trained; the degree of skill or training not having reached a point sufficiently in advance of a multitude of others to command a sure place in the industrial system. It is quite probable that in the near future the opportunities and inducements for learning trades will be greatly enlarged, and anyone desiring information regarding opportunities for learning a trade will be given every possible assistance.