Earlier this year, Donald Trump said this to a group of Republican lawmakers: “Today you have community colleges and you have all of the—when I was growing up we had vocational schools . . . You learn mechanical, you learn bricklaying and carpentry and all of these things. We don’t have that very much anymore. And I think the word ‘vocational’ is a much better word than in many cases a community college. A lot of people don’t know what a community college means or represents.”
Donald Trump says a lot of ignorant things. But in this case he was reflecting a blind spot common among American elites. For all the talk in political and policy circles about the need for skilled workers, most members of the leadership class have no real concept of how millions of working-class Americans actually get the skills they need for better jobs.