Are vocational training programs effective?

March 14, 2002, midnight | By Tina Peng | 19 years, 3 months ago

Tina Peng says NO: Vocational courses are restrictive

High school should be a time when students can develop an interest in a variety of academic fields in order to make informed decisions about their futures. The vocational training program at the Thomas Edison High School of Technology and others like it, while meant to help students by preparing them for careers after high school, limit academic potential by forcing students to focus upon a single career. The programs fail to provide solid groundwork for students who choose not to pursue careers outside of the field in which they have studied intensively.

Edison is the only school in MCPS with a vocational training program, and its daily career development courses are two-and-a-half hours long. Bus rides for students who live further away greatly diminish the time those students spend in their home schools. Blair students who go to Edison must spend four class periods per day for a semester in their career development courses.

These periods could be used for more advanced and varied courses. Because so much of the school day is occupied by studying a single trade, students have little opportunity to pursue other subjects and interests, such as the arts, especially when the MCPS course requirements for graduation are taken into consideration. Thus, the students cannot fully expose themselves to the realm of classes and information available, leaving students unable to discover their true niches.

Further, the majority of the programs offered at Edison, such as cabinetmaking and masonry, are outdated in today's economy. Although a market for such trades will always exist, the Catalyst, an online newspaper advocating school reform, states that employers and companies alike are beginning to look for technologically proficient workers who have increasingly high levels of education.

Proponents of career development programs argue that students unable to afford higher education can use their training in post-graduation employment. However, a 1990 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) study based on the academic achievement and standardized test scores of public school graduates found that less than half of the students who received vocational training in high school and did not go on to college were able to use "their occupationally specific training in their jobs."

Because training in a certain vocation will be virtually useless to those who do not work in that profession, occupation-specific skills like those taught at Edison may provide little benefit later in life.

Vocational training has an admirable aim: to give students real-life experience and extensive training in careers that interest them. However, the current system is ineffective and limits the options available to enrolled students. In order for Edison's career development program to truly benefit students, its structure must be significantly altered to allow its participants to explore more fields of knowledge.

Tags: print

Tina Peng. Tina is a very sagely senior who likes journalism and other things. She cringes when she thinks of her avidly pro-Backstreet Boys bio of last year, but hopes that that will have been forgotten by now. Tina would like to grow up and become a … More »

Show comments


No comments.

Please ensure that all comments are mature and responsible; they will go through moderation.