Benefits of Vocational-Technical High Schools
Vocational education, or career and technical education, teaches students skills that prepare them to work in a particular field. The fields covered vary by school, but can include such trades as carpentry, culinary arts, automotive technology, electrical construction, graphic communications, and medical occupations.
Years ago, vocational education used to be thought of only as an alternative track for high school students who weren’t going to college. That has changed significantly in the last few years. In many states, vocational programs no longer limit a student’s opportunities after high school; in fact, a high-quality program may expand your child’s options. Students in a good program graduate from high school with a standard high school diploma as well as a professional certification. Students are then able to choose whether to start their career after high school, go on to college, or use their certification for a quality part-time job while they attend college.
In a study published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, researchers compared 100,000 students for three years who were enrolled in regular high school and vocational programs. Among the findings: “Students with greater exposure to career and technical education are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed, and earn higher wages.”
As students approach their junior year of high school, they often have a lot of options about how they can pursue their high school diploma. Below are the benefits that a vocational-technical high school can offer:
Many students are not sure what they want to do as a career, and it can be difficult to decide without having a lot of information about what a specific career entails. Vocational schools can allow students to explore possible careers so that they can determine whether they like it or not. Some students use college as a way to explore careers, jumping from major to major, but this is a very expensive way to determine a life course. Early career exposure can help students eliminate, or hone in on, various options.
Hands on learning is a great way to learn. Learning by doing helps you better grasp concepts and fully understand them. In addition, it encourages problem-solving, and every student who is comfortable solving problems performs better in both career and college. Additionally, hands-on learning can be motivating to students because it’s more interesting than sitting at a desk all day and also integrates academic skills into a “real world” context.
Skilled Labor in High Demand
As many as two-thirds of U.S. companies across multiple industries report difficulties finding qualified applicants for technical positions, with the biggest gaps in technology, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 10 out of the 28 top fastest-growing careers could be pursued with vocational training available through public schools. Many of the skills most needed by corporations are technical skills which can be obtained through public vocational-technical high schools, which provides students a significant cost savings alternative to college.
Teachers are Industry Professionals
Many vocational and technical instructors are experts in their field with years of experience working in the industry. This means that they can provide deep insight about what it takes to be successful on the job and provide connections to key people in their specific industries. These connections often lead to networking opportunities and learning the ropes of the industry.
Gain Practical Experience
Most vocational-technical high schools offer co-ops, internships, job shadows, and/or apprenticeships. These are great resume-builders, and many times can even result in a student being offered employment. The experience a student gains at these types of opportunities is invaluable. In addition, by being in a workplace environment, students also learn the “soft skills” necessary in the labor market.
Going to a technical school can prepare your teen for their future no matter what path they decide to take. Upon graduation they will have a high school diploma and a proficiency certificate. They can decide to attend college (and likely be ahead of their peers with more experience and knowledge in their field), or they can start their career. College isn’t for everyone, and it’s very expensive. A high school diploma alone doesn’t open very many doors to employment. A vocational-technical school can allow your teen to explore career options and become highly marketable to fill the gap for skilled workers.