It may be thought by some that this letter will appeal to a very small circle of readers, for the young men of the present day do not wish to learn trades; they consider it menial, and much prefer to be clerks or professional men. This is a fact. A New York carriage-maker, at a meeting of manufacturers in New Haven recently, said:
“One of the serious wants of this country and of our trade is good boys. Our boys are deteriorating, as are our men. The greatest difficulty that we experience in New York is that of getting boys who have brains and are willing to learn a trade thoroughly. The example of men who have made millions in a few years is held up before our boys in school, and the boys become inflamed with the notion that they must make their millions and be able to found new crossroads colleges before they die. So they eschew trades and become poor professionals.”
Tell the average boy that he ought to learn a trade, and he will look up with wonder and, perhaps, contempt, and say, “No trade for me.” But for all that, I hold that of every three boys who become clerks, two would have done better in health, in pecuniary results, and in the long run in comfort and social position, to learn a trade. Good mechanics to-day are better paid than the average of clerks, are more certain of situations, and, when from accidental causes out of a situation, have less trouble in getting another. In many trades the best workmen receive $3 a day. In some they are able to make by piece-work $4 and $5, while the average salary of clerks and subordinate book-keepers amounts to less than $800 a year. Some excellent authorities affirm that, take the country through, it amounts to less than $600 per annum. The expenses of the clerk, also, are larger than those of the mechanic.