As the digital age has influenced education, the previously offered opportunities to learn industrial arts in American high school have all but disappeared. Jobs that used to be straightforward and relied heavily on manual labor have become more complex and reliant on technology. For high school graduates, a college education isn’t just an opportunity to learn more about the desired field. It is has become a requirement in order to successfully pursue a number of career options. However, not all industries approve of the solid shift away from vocational teaching.
Changes to Career and Technology Education
The option to take welding or woodworking in high school has become obsolete, as training in more relevant technology fields becomes more critical and time-consuming. Vocational training has moved to the community college level and vocational training centers. These courses provide more time for exploring the high-tech manufacturing software and equipment that now control many industrial sectors. Training is more flexible, with part-time and full-time schedule giving high school students access to these programs after their traditional coursework is completed. Employers across the nations have been unable to find qualified employees in vocational areas of employment, as trending areas of computer programming, graphic design, information technology have captured the attention of individuals looking for job security. Even though programs exist to meet this need, there aren’t enough career training opportunities and students pursuing them to make a dent in the need.
Challenges in Teaching
Over the last few years, there has been a decline in American graduate scoring on workforce readiness. It isn’t vocational areas that are struggling. A survey of 400 out the Fortune 500 companies showed that university graduates from some of the best schools in the nation are deficient in applied skills needed for employment. For many educators, the blame can be on lack of learning through application, though experts think this is related to a lack of real-world experience for educators. With so many graduated heading straight into the classroom upon graduation and having gone straight to college from high school, the more seasoned educators believe that lack of exposure to the business world has left teachers without the ability to teach through application. Vocational training created critical thinking skills that are now sorely lacking in the majority of high school and college graduates around the country.
Concerns for Companies
With so little attention on education preparing students for real-world scenarios, many companies are stepping up to the plate to fill the training void. Regardless of education and experience, companies like Cisco conduct extensive training with any new hire. Cisco has creatively partnered with Best Buy through the store’s Geek Squad element to train workers in IT skills and the equally important soft-skills of customer relations. Companies are also offering education incentives for college graduates to return to school on a vocational level to develop the skills needed for their position.
It used to be that vocational education programs at the high school level were to train graduates for immediate entry into the workforce. Now, in spite of quality college educations, workforce candidates are still lacking in the necessary skills many of their job positions require.