The following is just a hypothesis. Is it on track?
In prior decades, pre-1980s particularly, I am sure many bright and talented kids became mechanics or went into the trades (student loans weren’t as pervasive, college was not such an automatic given for everyone, family culture, social norms, etc) Kids were expected to grow up earlier and marriage ages were lower. The idea of the perpetual student of age 30 still on the gov’t student loan dime wasn’t common like it can be today.
Today, one can say that too many students today are pushed into the college track. (That’s a debate for another thread, perhaps.) So who doesn’t go to college? Is it only the lowest performing students (no attention span, poor reading ability, hate thinking/learning, etc). Is the bright kid who bucks the college path the rare exception? As a result, are we seeing “white collar” college grads who have no real career prospects in their 20s b/c of supply/demand issues?
So, who is left for the trades? Are shops having trouble finding motivated and bright apprentices?? Are the least cerebral/academic types the only ones left that get into mechanics (and I bet this can be said for all the trades) Has the IQ of the kids that go into the trades dropped over the last few decades? Even below average kids are now shuffled off into “college”. Do some kids go to college and then just pursue the trades afterwards? But, is this even possible if you have loans to service, b/c it takes startup capital/apprenticeship/loans/equipment to get into the trades?
Anyone who spends more than a week on a car forum can see that there is higher order thinking and analysis in being a DIY/mechanic. Diagnosis, problem solving, asking questions, etc. If you can read, you can learn a ton about cars. But, that’s easier said than done! Unfortunately, based on a multitude of societal factors, many kids today really don’t read, and shut down if they see a full page of text (or anything longer than 160 chars. on a FB/twitter feed?)
Have your encountered the new generation of mechanics/tradesmen who are incompetent? Are they not sharp and perceptive. Are they not interested in being a good at what they do, and reading everything they can get their hands on? As a result, are they only capable of the most simple “mechanics” like adding oil or changing decals? But, as soon as anything deeper comes along, do they hit a wall? Can’t take notes, etc. Can’t do much beyond plug in the ODB2 and be told the answer (vs. visually inspecting a loose connection)
What are your thoughts on this? Is there truth to this theory? What are you seeing? Older members here may have more longitudinal perspective? Or, has the college bubble had no impact on the caliber of kids who get into mechanics?