The Return of Voc-Tech?

Apparently, at least in a few places in America, vocational education kind of works. Or at least Americans are drawn toward vocational schools. According to a piece by Rob Reuteman at CNBC:

“I didn’t want to take academic classes that wouldn’t get me a job in the long run,” says Nick Guerin, 21, who is studying to be a food service manager in the vocational division of Johnson & Wales University’s Denver campus. ‘”I enjoy that this curriculum is career-oriented,” adds Guerin. “I was always interested in the food industry, and this will give me the background and internships I need to become a restaurant manager or executive chef.”

Call them vocational schools, trade schools or technical schools—it doesn’t much matter. Once considered the poor stepsister to traditional four-year, liberal arts institutions of higher education and a refuge for second-tier students, they’re now at the forefront of preparing students for a 21st century workforce.

Well technically they’re still considered the poor stepsister to traditional four-year colleges. But at least in this economy, sometimes vocational school looks more practical. At least it is if students don’t assume debt to go there.

Currently, for a variety of reasons, a lot of America’s vocational postsecondary institutions are for-profit schools. They’re the expensive ones. The cheap schools, the community colleges, are not so great at vocational education. Maybe it’s time to correct that problem.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer