Great endorsement for the value of career and technical education from Katherine S. Newman, the provost of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Hella Winston, a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.
“…missing from the (presidential election) debate is the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of “middle skill” jobs in the United States that are — or soon will be — going unfilled because of a dearth of qualified workers. Employers complain that electricians, pipe fitters, advanced manufacturing machinists, brick masons and radiology technicians are scarce. More than 600,000 jobs remain open in the manufacturing sector alone. These are jobs that provide a middle-class wage without a traditional four-year college degree…
“…Over the past decade or so…there has been a move among educators and policy makers to reinvigorate vocational education, now rebranded as career and technical education. Some schools have been extraordinarily effective; others are struggling. If we are to offer young Americans options that are readily available to their counterparts in countries like Germany, we need to figure out what makes for success.
“…(Vocational schools) also struggle against stigma, as the “college for all” campaign gets louder, prompting an increased emphasis on standardized testing that takes time away from relevant learning and serves as an inadequate measure of what students know and, by extension, how effective schools are.
“…We can do better, and we need to if we are going to compete against countries that are pouring funding into first-rate training. We should pay vocational teachers to spend their summers updating their experience in their industry of expertise, and make it easier for people who have worked in industry to become teachers themselves. We should also define high standards for vocational education and attach real apprenticeship opportunities to it.
…Finally, we should push our political leaders to make a long-term commitment to technical training for high school and community college students.”
Newman and Winston are also the authors of Reskilling America: Learning to Labor in the 21st Century.