The Baltimore News says:
“Really skillful mechanics are becoming more and more scarce and trades are only half learned. Old-time workmen were proud of their work and a man would consider himself guilty of a piece of flagrant dishonesty to leave a bad job behind him. The artisan had as much pride in anything he touched as was to be found in the literary creator. But there seems to be no such feeling now. Men are only half educated at their trades and about the only thing that gives real concern is the question of pay.”
The breaking up of the old apprentice system is the cause of this evil, and its restoration will be the only cure. The Gazette was informed some time ago by one of the most reputable and respected employing mechanics in this city, that it was a hard matter for him to get good native journeymen, and that the best skilled workmen he got now-a-days were foreigners.
There was a time, not so very long ago either, when a mechanic took as much pride in his handiwork as a writer does in the product of his mind, and would have been as much hurt by sneers at his job as the latter is by adverse criticism of his article. But that time is now a thing of the past.
Judging from appearances, the fact that it has become so has improved neither the moral nor the material condition of the class referred to. This country must have good mechanics, and if it can not get them at home it will, as it has done, send abroad for them, and thus is increased the competition between American labor and the cheaper labor of Europe.
But for all this, the labor unions still restrict the number of boys permitted to learn trades. The evil effect of this compulsory idleness upon the excluded boys is patent in every town and city of the entire country.
Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser – July 1, 1887