America’s Vocational Education is Important


In 1983, an investigation by the National Commission on Excellence in Education found that our education system was, by and large, failing our citizens. What then Secretary of Education T.H.Bell confirmed was “the widespread public perception that something is seriously remiss in our education


-something is seriously remiss in our education system--T.H. Bell, Secretary of Education 1983

What had been dangerously underestimated was the importance of vocational programs in funneling youth into skilled trades careers. Ideally, this next generation carries out the work that, primarily, our current baby boomer generation is now retiring from. Instead, they are funnelled into pursuing a traditional education. In sum: our country has no successive skilled workforce. This work includes construction and extraction occupations, welding, soldering and brazing workers, and machinists. Need a visual representation of this scary phenomena? Check out this infographic for a comprehensive breakdown.



This gap in our education system has closely contributed to what the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition calls, appropriately, a “skills gap”. We have created an environment in which there is no younger generation of tradesmen and women to fill the jobs that the baby boomers are retiring from. Multiple sources have echoed these concerns, such as Fox Business, whose article reads, “Positions in skilled trades, such as welders and electricians, lead ManpowerGroup’s list of the hardest jobs to fill in 2012.” This is a big problem… We can only anticipate the demand for skilled trades work increase as the economy recovers from our last recession. So… what can we do about the lack of skilled workers?


Let’s first challenge the misperception that all quality jobs in this country require a traditional four-year-degree. Let’s change our approach to vocational education and realize that skilled trades work is as respectable, fulfilling, and meaningful a career path as traditional options. Let’s break this national stigma that says blue collar work is somehow ‘less honorable’ than working 9-5 in an office.


The jobs in trades industries are abundant, and there are a multitude of organizations that can help you prepare for and connect with the opportunities! Companies like NCCEROSHA, AWS, and, Unions offer education programs that teach the important skills needed for entering the industry. If you don’t have a program close to you, check out a community college or trade school in your area. Don’t forget to stop by the financial aid office to ask about available scholarships!

The resources are out there to help young up-and-coming skilled tradesmen and women fill the shoes of a retiring generation of workers. If you’re a recent high-school graduate seeking a fulfilling career path, we suggest exploring the skilled trades. It’s up to you to pick a path, educate yourself, and secure a promising future.


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