#373. Vocational Education Follow-up

Posted on | The Agurban
Vocational Education Follow-up

Thanks to our readers for the many responses to last week’s Agurban on the need for vocational education. All of the feedback was in support of vocational training, and many communities are taking the necessary steps to provide programs to help their young people prepare for the work force. Below are a few of the responses we received.

Jack – this is a GREAT piece! (We) feel very strongly about this issue. Too many young people taking out student loans for useless degrees instead of gaining skills in high paying careers like plumbing, electrical or carpentry. One third of our employees are paying for loans on classes or degrees they will never use. Thank you for highlighting.

Niall and Kristie Campbell, firefly grill, Effingham, IL

Our local technical school, Columbus Technical College, has partnered with the Muscogee County School System and Pratt-Whitney, to offer an internship to students.  They start in the fall by attending Columbus Tech in the afternoons to complete the basic manufacturing certificate by December. Then in January, or as soon as they are 18, they work in the afternoons at Pratt-Whitney. They are paid for this work ($10/hour I think).  When they graduate from High School, they are offered a full-time job if they are not going on to college.  Many of them go on to work at Pratt-Whitney which offers a very attractive plan to pay for college. The program is in the third year and has spread to two other counties.  Several other companies have expressed interest in the internship program.

Katie Howard, River Valley Regional Commission, Columbus, GA

You may also not be aware of the initiative going on in Paris, IL with trying to identify students that would be good prospects in developing a blue collar labor force for the community.  Bob Colvin has talked to me at length about this.  They want to take kids who may be average or below average students and mentor them in a way that they can learn what a great career they can have by staying in the area by learning a skill and working in the factories.  Bob said that Edgar Co. residency has dropped, but for some reason, employment has risen and they want to see both rise.  Certainly these are efforts that the EIU BSC could assist with.

Jacqueline S. Joines, Director of Philanthropy, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL

I spoke with a head hunter/recruiter about all of the jobs that required vocational training that were going begging.  She said it was the parents in many cases who did not want their kids to go this route.  Thought a college degree was better, as a well-paying vocational job would be beneath their parent’s dignity.  Also saw on TV where only 40% of graduates (45,000 per year) from law schools got a chance to actually practice law.  No jobs available.   

Dave Schilling

I love your weekly newsletter and have shared it with a number of bankers, downtown organizations, and other community members. This particular topic (voc-ed) is of great interest in our region, our state, and indeed should be across the country. The Harvard School of Education has researched and written an excellent report called “
Pathways to Prosperity“.  The basic premise is that we need to realize that a 4-year college degree is not the only path to  success. Most jobs in the next two decades will not need a 4-year degree. Many will need post-secondary training or certifications, and nearly all will need a high school degree. But there is a huge mismatch between the skills needed for current and future jobs and the talent pool we have. Schools and employers have important roles to play in making this change happen. 
Robin Poole Scheu, Executive Director, Addison County Economic Development Corp., Middlebury, VT

We will continue to track the trends in vocation education. Please let us know of new efforts in your communities.