By Kathryn Forsyth
New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools
As New Jersey students headed back to school and campus following their summer break, NJ 101.5’s morning host Bill Spadea led an energetic and engaging discussion on the cost of college and other career options for young people.
Bill and many of his callers were of the same opinion: More opportunities are needed for people to learn technical trades.
In today’s global economy, everyone needs some education beyond high school, but a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessarily the right choice for everyone.
Too many students accumulate crushing college debt without considering opportunities to learn high-demand skills in trade and technical careers that do not require a four-year degree.
In a blog he posted on 101.5’s web site after the discussion, Bill wrote:
…there’s a culture in our nation and in our education system that drives every student toward college. That culture is misguided and detrimental to an entire generation of young people getting to the age where they have major life decisions to make…
…HVAC, electricians, builders, plumbers are all critical to our modern society. And there are professional licenses like real estate and insurance that can afford a person a lucrative career without the professional delay of four years in college and the debt that most likely comes with the degree…
…What’s interesting is that there is a very high demand for what is now called Career and Technical Education (CTE)…VoTech is old school I guess. A report came out in Philadelphia that among 35,000 high school students, 11,000 wanted to get into a CTE program but the system could only accept 2500…
Here in New Jersey, our 21 county vocational-technical high school districts provide all types of career and technical education opportunities, from 21st century trades technology to specialized career academies. They are also in high demand, receiving , on a statewide average, about 2.5 applicants for every available seat.
One of Bill’s callers was David Nash, who coordinates work-based learning opportunities for students Mercer County Technical Schools.
Dave told Bill and his audience that modern high school career and technical education programs have changed dramatically. The advancement of technology has revolutionized most industries; most jobs require a much higher skill set than they did in the in the past, and the training is rigorous.
He noted that career and technical education addresses not only the technical skills students need in various fields, but also the workplace skills that all employers look for, like creative thinking, teamwork, communications and responsibility.
In his blog post, Bill urged state and national policy leaders to:
…Listen to the clear demand that is raging among high schoolers and reallocate local and national resources to true career advancement and technical training…
…Let’s get more young Americans trained for the skills that are critical to keep our economy and our living standard at the level we are striving to achieve.