Why We Desperately Need to Bring Back Vocational Training in Schools
Vocational training is a type of education that teaches students with technical skills and practical experience in a specific trade or craft.
This is a type of education skips over traditional academics and is purely focused on developing skills for a trade of a person’s choosing.
In a society where schools are hyper focused on getting students into college, vocational training provides options.
It provides individuals with specialized knowledge that allows them to successfully pursue a career in their chosen industry or to test the waters out on possible careers.
These specialized courses are able to provide the experience to improve an individual’s employability for a specific job because the courses teach highly marketable skills.
This is not to say that colleges are not useful. They are just not for everybody.
For young people who lack the financial security to go to college and for students who exhibit an interest in certain craft, vocational training is the path to a fulfilling career.
The problem, however, is that our education system does not shine enough light on the benefits of vocational training.
Vocational training does not just give students marketable skills, it gives them an option.
That being said, today, we will talk about the ten reasons why our education system should shift its focus and perception of a vocational education.
REASON 1: COSTS LESS THAN A FORMAL EDUCATION
Vocational training costs significantly less than a formal, college education. According to Vocational Training HQ, the average cost of a vocational education in 2019 is around $33,000.
It still looks like a lot, but it is massively cheaper than the average $127,000 you would need for a bachelor’s degree.
The difference between the price points makes vocational school an accessible option for people who cannot afford the more traditional education route.
However, the costs for vocational training varies with the field of study or courses you plan to take.
Again, the tuition fees will vary depending on where you are going to school. The ballpark range for real estate trade school tends to be as little as $3,000.
One of the most lucrative career programs is information technology or IT.
It is a career field that is in high demand and has a variety of sub-fields. From web design and network administration to security analyst and e-commerce, there is something for everybody in this field.
For more vocational training programs, check out this article.
REASON 2: AIDS STUDENTS WITH DIFFERENT INTELLIGENCES
We live in a society that unfairly prioritizes white-collar jobs over blue-collar jobs. However, this is a massively skewed and destructive perception of vocational schools.
It is destructive because we are expecting children to meet a standard that not everyone meets. According to Howard Gardner, a Harvard University professor, there are multiple types of intelligences.
This refers to the idea that students possess different kinds of minds, which makes them learn and perform differently from one another. Moreover, these different types of intelligences should all be valued equally.
Vocational training essentially open ups the avenues of teaching multiple learning styles.
Rather than focus on the standard verbal-linguistic or mathematical-logical intelligences, vocational training provides courses for kids who have strengths in:
- Musical Intelligence
- Visual-Spatial intelligence
- Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
- Interpersonal Intelligence
- Intrapersonal Intelligence
- Naturalist Intelligence
- Existentialist Intelligence
Kids who understand things through these different intelligences have a better chance of fully developing them through vocational education.
The focused nature of vocational education allows kids to get out of the bounds of the traditional classroom and learn about trade that utilizes their greatest talents.
Moreover, it contributes to our economic health and developing excellence in all fields of occupation.
For more about the importance of multiple intelligences in the classroom, check out this video.
REASON 3: MAY HELP DISADVANTAGED KIDS & YOUTH
According to the American Psychological Association, poor students were five times more likely to drop out of school than high income students.
Typically, these disadvantaged students experience a mix of family and community poverty.
This could mean that the student could come from a household of high mobility, hunger, absent parents, drug abuse or from areas high in crime, welfare dependency and more.
Not only do these circumstances make it difficult for a child to access the resources to go to school, but the toxic stress can have lasting impact on their learning and health.
For example, when a middle to upper class student starts to fall behind in school, their parents can easily hire a tutor and the one on one teaching method tends to get them back on track.
This solution does not work for disadvantaged students.
However, there is a way to reverse it.
According to Politico, vocational training can shift the academic direction of a disadvantaged student. Vocational training can be used to implement career pathways early on to support students and even older individuals to find good jobs.
Career pathway programs provide clear training steps that are tailored to a specific job to improve the education and employability of a disadvantaged individual.
They focus on training for practical occupational skills that are marketable to high in-demand jobs.
Moreover, disadvantaged youths’ benefit from a program that is truly tailored to their circumstances and needs.
REASON 4: HOLDS STUDENTS ACCOUNTABLE
While vocational training teaches several practical, hands-on skills, it also ensures that students develop accountability.
Accountability refers to your ability to take responsibility for your actions and own the consequences of those actions. Accountability holds a lot of weight in your academic and professional life, and it is a skill that has to be learned.
In high school, for example, students are often exposed to the luxury of having constant reminders for assignments, projects, etc.
Attendance and tardy policies are a lot stricter and teachers will enforce them. It is far different in college.
In college, teachers are little more hands-off.
Even though they might remind you of due dates, it is up to the student to keep up with their assignments and to show up to class.
College professors do not have the time to hunt down students to make sure you pass. You are expected to be self-motivated and take more responsibility for your academic career.
Vocational training offers a great opportunity to learn and develop accountability before a student enters the workforce.
With vocational training courses, they are treated very much so like a college course. As a student, you are held responsible for keeping up with the classes, which includes showing up on time, meeting deadlines, and being self-sufficient.
How well you do in vocational training relies on how much of an effort you give.
So, for example, you might think that skipping a day of vocational training is okay. However, you will quickly learn that missing that one day of class is missing out on a lesson that could make you more employable.
Accountability ends up being one of the most valuable skills that will help you do well in any occupation you take on. Fortunately, vocational training helps you learn this early on.
For more lessons about responsibility and accountability, check out this video.
REASON 5: LOOKS GREAT ON COLLEGE APPLICATION
Another one of the great benefits of vocational training is that it can make a college application look more polished and impressive.
It goes without saying that college admissions can be quite cutthroat, and students are constantly looking for ways to make themselves stand out from the competition.
While high grades and extracurriculars are valuable, colleges are also impressed by individuals who exhibit a range of specialized skills and talents.
According to wisegeek.com, the typical high school vocational program splits its courses between job-focused courses and the more traditional school courses.
As you can see, vocational learning strives to provide students with a well-rounded education and work experience.
The addition of a vocational program on any college application is impressive because it shows a student’s range as well as their ability to balance workloads.
What is even more impressive is that some of the high school vocational courses are college-level classes, which highlights your academic potential.
This shows college admissions that they are admitting someone who can excel at their university.
College admissions can be tough.
However, the more well-rounded you are, the more likely colleges will accept you. And vocational training can be the key to making that happen.
For more tips on how to make a polished college application, take a look at this video.
REASON 6: GREATER AUTONOMY
Unlike traditional schools, vocational training allows individuals a great amount of autonomy. Autonomy is so important in the classroom or in an education because it empowers a student and makes them more motivated.
Encouraging autonomy is key to taking ideas students learn in a classroom and turning it into a real-life experience. Fortunately, vocational training can accomplish this.
Most of the vocational courses come in the form of a hands-on experience. This is vastly different than having a classic classroom setup.
The hands-on approach gives an individual more ownership and confidence in their work.
The autonomy allowed in a hands-on approach essentially bridges that gap between what the teacher teaches and whether or not the student can actually remember it and apply it.
Moreover, vocational training is also preferred for its flexibility and the speed of its programs. Since there are multiple vocational or technical schools and a variety of course start and end times, vocational training gives you the flexibility to start whenever and wherever you want.
From night classes to online classes, you do not have to sacrifice any of your aspects of your current lifestyle to accommodate schooling.
Additionally, vocational training tends to be quick or short-term. The courses are designed to take as little time as possible so that you can enter the job market quicker.
Some courses can take as little as 6-months before you are working an entry-level position with a good wage. This is definitely a shorter time commitment than a normal 4-year college, but with a massive amount of payoff.
For more tips on promoting student autonomy, check out this article.
REASON 7: HELPS STUDENTS DEAL WITH COLLEGE LIFE
As we have mentioned before, vocational learning can bring an individual many benefits in high school.
Not only does it make their experiences in high school more well-rounded, it actually prepares them for the expectations of college life.
Compared to high school, college is a whole new ball game. The workload is usually more intense. Professors encourage more autonomy and accountability.
However, most importantly, college presses you to focus on mastering your field of study, which is very similar to vocational training.
That being said, it only makes sense that vocational training can help make this transition from high school into college much easier for you.
Vocational training teaches you how to stay focused. In turn, this can prepare students to sort out their priorities and put their energy fully behind learning.
REASON 8: HELPS STUDENTS DISCOVER TALENTS
While most high school students are working to get as many extracurriculars on their resume, William Fuller, a high schooler from Philadelphia, was working to get his high school diploma, carpentry certification and solidify his full-time job offer.
You’re probably asking how he managed to do this.
Well, Fuller graduated from Philadelphia’s Mercy Vocational High School, where students learn the basics to earn both a high school diploma and industry certification.
Fuller had an early passion for tinkering, which is why the vocational high school’s career programs interested him. It prepared him for how the world would be and ensured he knew what to expect.
Despite the stigma surrounding vocational or trade schools, vocational schools are working their magic across the country to help students embrace new talents and realize their full potential.
There are several high schools just like Mercy that are popping up to answer the call for technical and career education.
Again, the traditional option of going to college right out of high school is not a universal option for everyone. Yet, the rhetoric continues to forward college as the only means to getting a good job.
The truth is that vocational training, especially at the high school level, is vital in helping students bridge the gap between what they learned in school and having employable skills.
Even President Obama demanded more job training courses at the high school and college level because he realized students were unprepared for the real world outside of college.
Now, according to US News, a common fear about vocational training is that it forces children to make an immediate choice about their career path that they might regret later. Although vocational training is about focusing on a specific career, it offers more choices beyond college to discover and foster new talents.
People have different passions and talents, and they need that space to develop that into a viable skillset.
Giving people the opportunity to develop a talent or skill they love allows people who are passionate about their work to have a better chance of landing a job right out of school.
And even if the skills they learned in high school vocational courses are not relevant to what they want in the future, they still have a marketable skill set on their side that can earn them income while they decide their next move.
With how the job market is evolving, it is hard to deny how useful vocational training schools could be.
Mercy Vocational High School saw 26% of its graduating class in 2013 go straight into full time jobs, a feat which is still hard for some college graduates.
Implementing vocational training schools to hone skills and develop talents might be key to helping more students feel more secure in their future because they have more than one option to choose form.
REASON 9: MAY AID IN FAILING SCHOOLS
Not only can vocational training gives individuals more options and greater chances of being employed, vocational training can give failing schools a second lease on life.
Ever since the recession, where high unemployment and skilled jobs when unfilled, many employers are more invested in career and technical education.
Employers who are desperate for employees have actually been establishing partnerships with school districts in order to produce more career training programs.
If the school happens to be failing or struggling, they receive some financial support to stay open and a way to keep educating students.
Then, these students are able to go out and answer the call for skilled, technical workers by the employers who invested in their vocational program in the first place.
It is a great system where both parties benefit greatly in some way.
Now it should be noted that the most lucrative field of study and work right now is in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) department.
As such, there are many schools and vocational programs that take advantage of combining advanced work with vocational studies.
For example, there are programs for studying biology and medicine together or learning how to establish a student credit union.
Struggling schools can pick up on this method of instruction not just for the advantage of having employers invest in their program, but to also have students who are fully prepared to answer the needs of the industry as it is right now.
To read more on how schools are revolutionizing vocational training, check out this article.
REASON 10: STUDENTS ARE LESS LIKELY TO BE UNEMPLOYED
The popular notion has always been that college improves your chances of getting hired.
According to the New York Fed, 34% of college graduates are underemployed or working in a job that does not require a degree.
If you factor in the post-graduate debt, getting a college degree is not quite as rosy as vocational training. Still, people are doubtful of its benefits. Is it really the best path towards a reliable career?
To answer that, we have to think about the fact that the U.S. economy has drastically changed.
Out of all the industries, the manufacturing sector has grown and modernized, bringing on a huge wave of well-paying jobs that need to be filled.
Alongside that, we have a massive population of underemployed or unemployed college grads and high school students looking for a direct pathway to a strong career.
Vocational training and apprenticeships are the way to tie the two together. Not only is vocational training more affordable, it also provides you with the perfect amount of skills and hands-on experience to get you started at a well-paying entry level job.
Vocational training is a flexible method that will give you the transferable skills to help you survive unemployment and number of jobs in the future.
Unlike college, vocational training provides an efficient and effective way to reduce the rates of unemployment for young people.
The college route, while widely favored, is a narrow mentality that ignores all the possibilities of vocational training.
For more on the benefits of vocational training, check out this article.
The narrative of education and career in the U.S. has been dominated by the notion that college is the only way to a successful career, but that is not true.
Despite the stigma, vocational training can be a more productive choice for young people nowadays.
As the job market evolves and calls for more career and technical education, young individuals need vocational training to make them marketable employees who are ready to work straight out the gate.
Vocational training creates individuals are able to work in a specialized field, have embraced their talent, and are prepared to handle the pressure of the real world.
All this considered, vocational training needs to get credit for what it can do for young people.
Hopefully, this article has shown some of those benefits to you. If you have any thoughts, please let us know!
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