Today’s vocational high schools challenge the stereotypes of years past, providing students with invaluable job training and a stepping stone to higher education. Learn more about the modern vocational high school and if it is a right choice for you.
In the past, vocational training was often viewed as a "fall back" plan for high school students who struggled in a traditional academic setting. However, today's students are beginning to tune into the benefits that a vocational high school can provide, from jumpstarting a career in a variety of industries to becoming the first step toward a degree in a specific industry.
Consider the latest information about vocational high schools to determine whether this might be a savvy step in your academic career.
Opportunities of Vocational Training
According to a report at StateUniversity.com, vocational training prepares high school students to move into a high-paying, skilled job much more quickly. Many vocational programs also include the necessary certification for different jobs, giving students graduating from these schools an advantage when they enter the job market.
Much of vocational training is hands-on, which means that in addition to appealing to a different type of learner, these programs offer the specific experience needed to land a job and begin working almost immediately after graduation.
In the last several decades, the popularity of vocational high schools has been on the decline, as many of these schools offered training in production and manufacturing, which no longer offers as much job opportunity for students.
However,vocational schools are currently in the process of transforming from programs of the past to programs of the future. Some of the new offerings at vocational high schools include:
- Auto repair
- Food handling
- Computer repair
- Health care
Students who enroll in these programs begin the fast track to a career that may or may not include college after graduating from high school. Some students actually find they can begin working in their chosen field right after high school and take college courses at the same time. A few lucky individuals might even find that their employer is willing to pay for their higher education in hopes of getting an even more skilled employee at the end of the process.
Despite the many advantages vocational high school offer, the enrollment into many of these programs continues to decline. Some of the possible reasons for the decline, according to the same report at StateUniversity.com, include:
- The decline of the manufacturing industry
- A greater focus on academics in vocational training that has resulted in stricter requirements for the programs
- The perception that lower-achieving students were "dumped" into these programs as an alternative to the traditional academic setting
- The idea that students in vocational schools would not go on and earn a four-year college degree
Most of these factors have been altered to make vocational high schools more inviting to students. However, it isn't easy to change the general perception that has shadowed these schools for decades. Fortunately, there are some vocational high schools that hope to change the stereotypes.
Western Area Career and Technology Center
This vocational school in Chartiers, Pennsylvania offers a variety of programs to high school students looking for an alternative to the traditional high school setting, according to a report in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. While this school has seen enrollment declines in recent year, the success of many of the students who have attended the programs may be breathing new life into the school, particularly those who move onto prestigious four-year universities after graduation.
Educators are committed to getting the word out about the potential benefits of Western Area Career and Technology Center, as well as other vocational schools in Pennsylvania like A.W. Beattie in McCandless and Steel Center Area Vocational Technical School in Jefferson Hills. Representatives are now touring primary and middle schools to talk to students about the options they have available when it is time to choose a high school. Career exploration days have also been offered to bring students into the vocational schools and find out what programs are available.
Visalia Technical Education Center
In California, students in the Visalia area have the option of attending Visalia Technical Education Center (VTEC) to prepare to be a veterinary technician or a food-science technician. These programs include classroom instruction Monday through Thursday, with hands-on training every Friday, according to a report in the Visalia Times-Delta. Currently, VTEC boasts 53 students, but hopes to have a full enrollment of 210 students by 2013, when the original class is slated to graduate.
Vocational training has evolved from an alternative to traditional high school to a full-fledged training program that prepares students for a lucrative career. Students who want to jumpstart their professional training before college can now do so with many excellent vocational training programs available across the country.