An ode to vocational education.
Giving people skills that provide good jobs and provide value to the market and society has been a missing key to this massive job shift we’ve experienced.
It’s time to follow Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s example and retool education to look at other outcomes beside college.
In his almost eight years in office, he has made his No. 1 priority lifting the skills of Delaware’s citizens. He worked on traditional education, expanding high-quality pre-K and helping low-income teenagers go to college. And he worked on what academic researchers like Robert Schwartz call “the forgotten half”: the many students who won’t graduate from college but who also need strong skills to find decent jobs. Their struggles are a major reason that America’s work force is no longer considered the world’s most highly skilled.
But having a major can also help students who don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. It connects book learning to real life. It can help launch them into college or a certificate program and avoid the epidemic of academic drift.
Many people in New Castle, not to mention the industrial Midwest, feel a deep cultural connection to craftsmanship — to making things and working with their hands. They’re not inspired by working in cubicles or comfortable offices.
At the same time, they can’t simply do as previous generations did and graduate from high school into a good job. They can’t bring back yesterday’s economy. They need blue-collar skill-building to thrive.
The country has failed to provide nearly enough of that skill-building, and we’re all living with the consequences.
A Jolt of Blue-Collar Hope http://nyti.ms/2f1v9Uk