Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Practicality of Vocational Training

The Assessment of Senator dealt with vocational education at both the secondary and postsecondary levels, in the brief time available here.

Vocational education is postsecondary (high school) education that focus on teaching a specific practical trade, rather than a more abstract education set that is achieved through a liberal arts education. For many years vocational education had the stigma that it was for people who couldn’t make it – for one reason or another – into college, it is now making a resurgence as many technical trades need highly sophisticated training but not the liberal arts background – or tuition expense and time – that a four year college provides, they are the blacksmiths of the modern era.

There are many sources for this type of education, including community colleges that provide lower level general college courses as well as purely vocational programs that depend on the needs of their community, include, but not limited to, nursing and dental programs. Many community colleges also offer certification programs to help develop IT careers.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) is responsible for providing a unified federal approach to vocational education, though each state is still responsible for its own implementation. OVAE also administers the Perkins grant program, providing easier access to the programs to people of all income levels.

Speciality schools, such as Florida’s DAVE School (Digital Animation and Visual Effects) are also on the rise. These schools are outside state and federal funding, but attendance can still be supported by federal and state loans and grants. These schools are founded for a number of reasons, typically growing out of a company’s desire to improve the quality of their recruits or by people or by industry professionals that want to help the younger generation break into a technical aspect of a career that other postsecondary education options to not support.

By focusing on a specific skill set, these schools are able to provide detailed and industry useful education in a shorter time period than four year programs. This advantage is offset by the limited credibility of vocational programs outside their specific career fields. This is the trade off for the narrow focus of the education provided. When considering starting a vocational program, this must be taken into account, more so than with college, participants in vocational programs must have a clear focus and commitment to their specific goal. Yet, for the people with that focus, vocational training and the careers that follow can provide an enriching life experience.

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