Vocational Skills Focus
K-12 public schools focus today, much like they always have in the past, on a college preparatory system. Schools have created a sub track system called vocational training. The employment reality is one of an exponentially exploding demand for workers with highly defined professional and occupational skill sets. Schools need to adjust to meet not only college prep but also high skills preparation for the 21st century worker.
Public school vocational programs have begun this transformation to meet present workforce skills requirements with Career and Technical Education programs. The Kansas Department of Education is a leader in this conversion and one that should be explored and modeled across the country.
Business demands, employability volatility, global economic pressures, mounting college debt and the reduction of job attainment by a college graduate have all compounded to create the need for additional viable options for students.
There appears to be a stigma about vocational/career preparation options within public schools that is largely unfounded. While studies show the lifetime earning potential for a college graduate outpaces a student without a diploma, there are growing numbers of high paying job options that do not require a college degree. School districts and their local businesses must do a better job of communication the need for these options to the parents of the students they serve. Given the job mobility of our current and future work force schools would better serve all their students to provide fluidity between college prep and high technical skills training.