Across the country, vocational schools are being given more and more of the lime light. With the rising costs of colleges and universities and more and more college graduates unable to find work, high school students are being forced to rethink their educational future.
In Minnesota, lawmakers are pushing to get more funding for vocational schools and their students, posts Alex Friedrich for MPR News. This is proving difficult as Minnesota cut down its funding of 66% of students’ tuition in 2002 to 44% in 2012.
Minnesota is working with the vocational industries in the state to see what employers are looking for and basing their programs around the need, writes Friedrich. Many students are told, “You must go to college,” which leaves many of the vocational jobs unfilled and in high demand for workers.
North Carolina is running along the same lines of thinking, says Molly Parker for Star News. It has signed a new bill into law called Senate Bill 14, which allows for three different high school diplomas: college bound, career bound, or both. Some say that it it better for students to have more than one post secondary option. Some students drop out of high school because they do not want to go to college and feel that there is no other option. Parker quotes Catlin as saying:
“‘Right now, our children pretty much have one educational pathway,’ said Catlin, R-New Hanover. ‘I think that that has an impact on our dropout rates because some children are not necessarily college bound and they don’t have a hope for being able to go in that direction.’”
According to Parker, Catlin states that North Carolina could learn alot by looking into Germany’s vocational programs. In Germany, vocational schools are seen as highly respectable and professional and not just a way out of going to college. Germany also has a higher graduation rate than North Carolina. Catlin is planning to send a team to Germany to look into how their vocational programs are run.
The same trend is seen in Pennsylvania and its cities, writes Kathy Boccella for The Inquirer. Enrollment in vocational programs is up in current years. New schools are being built to keep up with the high demand of new students. Boccella writes:
“Joe O’Brien, executive director of the Chester County IU, which has built two CTE campuses since 2008 at a cost of $63.5 million and which plans to replace a third facility with a new building in the next few years, said enrollment had jumped 10 percent in recent years and should continue to rise as the county looks to devise new job-pipeline programs with top local employers such as Sikorsky.”
According to Boccella’s article, image is an issue, especially for parents of kids wanting to go into a vocational school. Many parents want their children to go to college and see vocational schools as a place for drug addicts or people not smart enough to go to college. Many parents see vocational school and not college as a mark of failure. Lawmakers and educators are trying to boost the image of vocational schools and get the word out to parents and teens to help them better understand the idea.