‘Ready for work’ is just a slogan

While educators agree that students should be prepared for both college and the workplace, career skills often get short shrift, reports Education Week.

“Industry after industry is going after high-skilled labor[ers] and cannot find them,” said Robert T. Jones, who was an assistant U.S. secretary of labor in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and is now the president of Education and Workforce Policy, an Alexandria, Va.-based consulting company. Even in the current recession, he said, many skilled manufacturing and technician jobs ­­— such as for welders and electricians — go begging.

Most students now assume they’ll go on to college. But the C, D and F students (and some of the B students) will find they lack the skills to pass college courses or qualify for apprenticeships.

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  1. In an age when employers routinely have to teach remedial writing and math skills to their employees, it’s silly to ask schools to teach job skills, skills which in many cases will be out of date by the time the students are in the job market.

    When I was in junior high, I had to take wood shop. Now I’m sure there are some carpenters and furniture makers who use wood shop skills, but they’re pretty specialized in today’s economy. Students today have to learn PowerPoint and Microsoft Word, but a decade from now those might be obsolete skills too.

    There are far too many skills out there to realistically cover them in school (welding????). Let employers teach job skills; let schools teach writing and math and history and such general skills that good citizens should have.

  2. There are some vocational programs that I feel would be good bets, even if some new skills must be learned after graduation. In the dark ages of the 50s-60s, I know of a high school where kids graduated ready for jobs like auto mechanic (I don’t know if tool and die makers and sheet metal workers are still viable), cosmetologists, administrative assistants and Licensed Practical Nurses. All of these represent real savings over equivalent programs taken post graduation, at the students’ expense, and that is even more true now. I currently know families whose kids are taking lab and x-ray tech programs.

  3. Momof4, you wouldn’t be talking about Boys’ Tech in Milwaukee or Lane Tech in Chicago, would you? At one time several of the big-city schools included trade and craft apprenticeships in their curricula. Milwaukee Tech’s program essentially melded high school and trade school for electricians and plumbers: finish senior year plus one year after senior year, leave with a license. Trade schools and vocational colleges tacked on two years.