The educational requirements are not very exacting. A thorough grounding in the “three R’s” is usually all that is necessary. A large amount of trade knowledge is obtained through contact and participation after entering employment and can be gained in no other way. The examinations for promotion are of a thorough-going character. One of the roads in Cleveland requires an examination of its firemen and trainmen six months after employment, as to vision, color-sense, and hearing. They must also pass an oral examination on the characteristics of their division and a written examination on certain set questions furnished them in advance. Two years later they are examined again, the fireman for engineman, and the brakeman for conductor. The scope of these examinations covers the whole range of train operating. Each of the five large railroads entering Cleveland has air-brake cars equipped with various forms of air brakes, air signals, pumps, valves, and injectors for the purpose of giving instruction to trainmen. A competent instructor is put in charge of these cars to explain the theory and practice of the apparatus and also to give instruction in any new type of engine or train equipment.
The conclusions of the report are in the main negative with respect to specialized vocational training in the public schools. There is no doubt that the general industrial course recommended for the junior high school period in previous chapters would be of some value to boys who may enter this line of work. Problems of railroad transportation might well be included as part of the work in applied mathematics. What workers in these occupations need most, however, is a thorough elementary education.
This section of the report takes up such occupations as those of teamsters, chauffeurs, and repairmen. There are no reliable data as to the number of men in the city employed in these occupations, but it is certain that it does not fall below 9,000. Notwithstanding the great increase in the use of automobiles and auto trucks in recent years the number of teamsters at the present time is in excess of 4,000 men. A very large proportion of the men employed in these occupations are of American birth.
The general conditions of labor such as wages, hours of labor, and so on, are the same for teamsters and chauffeurs. They earn about the same wages, belong to the same union, and work about the same hours. The wages range from 25 to 37 cents an hour. Earnings in the better paid jobs compare favorably with those in several of the skilled trades. Automobile repairmen earn from 30 to 45 cents an hour, and work from nine to 10 hours a day. The working day for teamsters and chauffeurs is somewhat longer, ranging from 10 to 12 hours. At the present time these occupations are only partially organized in trade unions.
The report recommends the establishment of a course in automobile construction and operation in the technical high schools. In view of the constantly increasing use of automobiles such a course would be of value to many boys besides those who enter employment as chauffeurs and truck drivers.