Labor Shortage

by Norman Halls, contributor

Education was changing in the mid-1700 for a strong knowledge with the skills that are important for the population in the United States. Changing traditional education system programs to hands-on-skills classes. The increasingly networked industries with the demand for people with skills to perform tasks were rapidly evolving. Hence, the strong need for a type of school to train people for these vocations.  Trade schools, established in St. Louis, Missouri in 1879, continued throughout the states offering agricultural programs, machine, automotive, building, heating and electrical.  Trade, Vocational and Career & Technical Education are the terms used over the years that offered skills for someone that could be employed. Many people look down at vocational schools. Wait till they need a plumber or need their brakes fixed on their car.

“A vocational school, sometimes called a trade school or vocational college, is a type of educational institution, which, depending on country, may refer to secondary or post-secondary education designed to provide vocational education, or technical skills required to perform the tasks of a particular and specific job. In the case of secondary education, these schools differ from academic high schools which usually prepare students who aim to pursue tertiary education, rather than enter directly into the workforce. With regard to post-secondary education, vocational schools are traditionally distinguished from four-year colleges by their focus on job-specific training to students who are typically bound for one of the skilled trades, rather than providing academic training for students pursuing careers in a professional discipline. While many schools have largely adhered to this convention, the purely vocational focus of other trade schools began to shift in the 1990s ‘toward a broader preparation that develops the academic’ as well as technical skills of their students.” Wrote Michael Huang “Information Literacy in Vocational Education”

Today the demands for skilled workers are greater. Especially, after the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas. The demand for carpenters, electricians, plumbers and health care workers is enormous.

The further demand for graduates from Career & Technical Education will determined where the United States will stand economically with the rest of the world. We have seen competitive edge in businesses and the workers has changed immensely over the years. Growth stems from businesses – only if there are skilled workers to provide the functions needed. In order to compete with other companies, in this country and throughout the world, there will be new technology incorporated in the manufacturing, house building and health care.    

“Curiosity, at its core, is all about noticing and being drawn to things we find interesting. It’s about recognizing and seizing the pleasures that novel experiences offer us, and finding novelty and meaning even in experiences that are familiar. When we are curious, we see things differently; we use our powers of observation more fully. We sense what is happening in the present moment, taking note of what is regardless of what it looked like before or what we might have expected it to be. We feel alive and engaged, more capable of embracing opportunities, making connections, and experiencing moments of insight and meaning — all of which provide the foundation for a rich, aware and satisfying life experience.” By Todd Kashdam The Power of Curiosity.

“Do you feel that the way we are educating students fully prepares them for the needs of the 21st century? Yes and no. The world is changing rapidly and one degree isn’t enough anymore. Therefore, an important goal for vocational education is to ensure that students have the skills to learn and keep on learning. All young people should also be taught good basic life skills that aren’t merely in the context of learning. For example, citizenship skills are important. One of the challenges that concern all areas of education is digitalization – how do we maintain an exciting school or learning facility so that it appeals to young people? What is an exciting learning environment? When children go to school, how do we ensure that their tablets aren’t taken away from them, and how do we incorporate these tools as part of the school system and education? It is a definite challenge for teachers to make learning exciting – the school system must not destroy their natural curiosity.”  Wrote Antti Malste a specialist in education policy and the Secretary General of the National Union of Vocational Students in Finland.

As the needs of our workforce change and the level of skill required for jobs increases, demand for vocational and technical education continues to rise. Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan points to these types of programs as a saving grace for our society, crediting them in 2017-2018 and beyond with an “enormous, if not overlooked, impact on our students.” However, the distinction between vocational and technical education can be sometimes hard to see. I suggest you visit a Career & Technical school to see what they have to offer. You will find a big change, such schools are offering courses in; Computer & Information; Environmental Studies; Finance & International Business; Health Care Sciences; Law & Public Safety; Mathematics, Science, and Engineering; Sports Medicine; Veterinary Science; Building & Design Sciences; Metal Sciences and Automotive Sciences.

The New York Fed’s researchers wrote, “the economic benefit of a college education is relatively small for at least a quarter of those graduating with a bachelor’s degree.” Starting wages for electrician $46,365; plumber $42,912; Carpenter $42,090; Nurse $71,000; Welder $83,00 and a Lawyer $45,000. Number of graduates will have a Student Loan, depending on the course taken, from $69,000 to over $102,000. College is not for everyone.

To Top