I enlisted in the military after finding college to be too boring for my taste. 3 months later I found myself doing the hardest manual labor of my life on a riverboat for the Coast Guard. The pay was not great and nobody cared if you didn't feel like working or were exhausted. The system (as is the military) is not merit based and the guys at the top were pretty awful to the ones at the bottom. By contrast, the officers in the coast guard had nice offices, nice crisp uniforms, nice private rooms, nice private dining quarters, ect. And the difference between those two (enlisted and officer) is a college degree.
What I learned is that I did not want to be an enlisted man. It's a lot of very hard work for little pay and even the highest enlisted man is still saluting the lowest officer.
This was enough to galvanize me to go to college and finish as quickly as I could.
Blue collar jobs are not for everyone. They were not for me. I realize the Coast Guard is not a perfect microcosm of the real world, but in a lot of ways it is. Now that I have the white collar job, I still chuckle at "mental health days" and people complaining about being "burnt out". I chuckle because I remember those days on the river, baking in the hot sun after working for 36 hours straight and how much we all would have laughed until we cried if those words had come out of someone's mouth.
Now that I'm double that age, the manual labor I've done like rewiring my house, installing all my own HVAC equipment, and all the yard work for a large property is much harder. I stay sore for days, and it's easy to push too hard to get something done and get injured or overwork my body to where my heart rate stays elevated for hours.
There's something to be said for working with your brain. The worst days dealing with idiot product management and never-ending Jira tickets don't compare to unloading a truck in a hot warehouse or kneeling in a crawlspace for hours re-piping a sewer line.
However from the article it's clear that those apprenticeships remain tied to an older model of apprenticeship that doesn't seek to replace most of University, and most of University needs getting replaced more than reformed.
As for the white collar workers that made the cut, their job isn't going to be as cozy. You're trading in back-breaking work for mental-straining work with severe time constraints.
The question is always "relative to what?"
Anyway, the move towards apprenticeships has arguably been underway for years: https://seliger.com/2017/06/16/rare-good-political-news-boos...
A friend of mine worked a really shitty job for a year, to finally find a much more cushy job, but it's graveyard shift. Eventually they'll put him on day shift. But in the mean time he's earning for his family, he doesn't have to do much work, and he's studying for a degree at night.
If you pick the right field, you have the right skills, and are in a hot market, trades can be very lucrative and you can be drowning in contacts. For someone who wants to be their own boss it can be very rewarding.