College vs Vocational Education

Does College Really Rule?

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By Jerry Lambert

Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club.  This week I wanted to share an article I wrote for a blogging service.  The article wasn’t picked up, so it’s their loss.  The article talks about the College versus Vocational forms of higher learning.  While the focus of this article is more for our children and grandchildren, it’s something you may want to share with them.  Especially if they are feeling like a square peg being crammed into a round hole.

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Photo Credit: MikeRowe.com

Mike Rowe, from the famous show, “Dirty Jobs” was recently on Fox News.  He was talking with Tucker Carlson about a letter he had written to President Obama.  A letter that he has now also forwarded to President Trump.

In this letter, he stated that the lack of Vocational Education in high schools has created a huge skills gap. The gap is between College-Educated students and the students who SHOULD be in Vocational / Technical Education.  There are over 5.6 Million Jobs that need to be filled, 75% of which do not require a 4 year degree.

Vocational / Technical Education is a field of study that prepares a student directly for the career he or she wants.  Think about cooking school, beautician school, truck driving school, heating and cooling school, etc.  Not to mention all of the plumbing, electrician, and carpenter apprenticeships.  You get the idea.  These training programs prepare the student for their new career immediately, and generally cost thousands of dollars less than heading to college.  Vocational Education has been removed from many high schools, resulting in this huge skills gap.

Boy dressed as repair manDo many of these jobs require a 4 year degree?  No.  Do you have to rack up over $100,000 in student loans in order to get these jobs?  No.  Are these glamorous jobs the average college kid would dream of having?  No.  However, are these jobs that need to be done in order for America to remain a vital, growing nation?  Absolutely, Yes!

Have many students have been sold a bill of goods when it comes to getting a college education?  It would certainly appear so.  It doesn’t take an Einstein to realize the soaring cost of a college education is not keeping pace with reality.  Drive by any college campus and you’ll see at least one new building under construction.  While many times, the dormitory conditions for students are outdated, cramped, and deplorable.

New Football Stadiums and Basketball Arenas that cost millions of dollars are being built to attract the nations’ top prospects.  This brings in thousands of dollars in TV revenue.  However, outside of a boost in school spirit, these facilities do very little for the average student.

is09an5qdThe amount of money pouring into our Universities borders on the insane.  An article that appeared in The Huffington Post reported that since they started keeping track in 1978, the costs for Tuition and Fees have risen 1,120%.  Ironically, the costs for Medical Expenses have risen only about half as much during the same time period, 601%!  Forget about Obamacare or Trumpcare, how about Collegecare?

What does the average student get for all those thousands of dollars spent on his or her education?  A piece of parchment? With no hope of paying off the mountain of debt piled up in pursuit of that elusive degree?

Over the years, manual labor or skilled trades’ jobs have been looked down upon by the college-elite and business professionals.  Plumbers, Electricians, Carpenters, Carpet Cleaners, Janitorial Staff, and other jobs are looked down upon by most business professionals.  “Hey, we’re doing the real work!”  That is the attitude pervasive in business today.

Industrial worker in plantAll of this belittling of good, honest work has caused many of today’s youth to shy away from these decent paying jobs.  Plumbers, Electricians, Carpenters, and Construction workers can earn a very good living!  These jobs might not be very sexy, but they need to be done, just the same.  Many of these jobs don’t have a corporate ladder to climb, but they can provide a comfortable living, for someone who is willing to do the work.

Mike Rowe’s show on The Discovery Channel is called “Dirty Jobs”.  It is an extreme example of some jobs that are on the far edge of the ick scale.  These jobs need to be filled, but employers are having a hard time hiring people to do them.

Somewhere along the line, hard work has only become acceptable only if it is taking place in an office building, a hospital, or a court house.  Rowe has a great quote about President Obama’s “Shovel Ready” jobs.  “I pointed out that President Obama’s promise of 3 million shovel ready jobs sounded great, but I worried that filling those jobs would be challenging – especially in a country where fewer and fewer people aspired to pick up a shovel.”  Rowe’s recent five minute testimony to Congress (before he was cut off) can be read by following this link.

DictionaryWhat this all comes down to is that High School Counselors and Parents need to realize that not every kid with decent grades is cut out for college.  Somewhere along the line, college has become the only “acceptable path”.  When offered “Higher Education” versus “Alternative Education”, which system do you think most parents want their precious little snowflakes enrolled in?

Clearly, not everyone is cut out for college.  Just like not everyone is cut out to be an electrician.  So let’s stop trying to cram square pegs into round holes and get back to giving each student an honest evaluation of his or her abilities.  Otherwise, we’ll continue to have ridiculously expensive Universities.  That, along with a national infrastructure that will continually need repair, because there is nobody to do the work!

As Rowe closed the segment with Carlson, he signed off with, “If you want to make America great again, you’ll need to make work cool again!”  Sounds like a t-shirt slogan to me!  I’m sure he can find a bunch of out-of-work college students to crank them out for him.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

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Author: Jerry Lambert

I am a 57 year old who found himself a member of The Brown Parachute Club, purely through no choice of his own. I hope this blog helps you to deal with your situation and hopefully points you in some interesting directions.

3 thoughts on “College vs Vocational Education”

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