Many high schools have phased out vocational education. It’s a shame, especially in an economy where lathe operators and pipe-fitters can earn high salaries. Vocational education got a bad reputation in the 1960s-1980s as a dumping ground for less-talented students. A “college-for-everyone” snobbery took over school boards. Here’s Todd Buchholz’s commentary from the PBS Nightly Business Report (scroll to minute 24:20 in the video) suggesting a new way forward for technical education. Young people who want to work with their hands should still learn math and business skills, but they shouldn’t be shamed into it.
Some states are now getting the message and re-assessing their disdain for technical skills. In Arizona, about one-quarter of the students choose tech-ed. They end up scoring higher on aptitude tests and graduating high school at higher rates than those who don’t. Working with your hands isn’t a bad thing. And for any of us who’ve ever been stranded on the side of the road in a stalled automobile, it’s a good thing