Vocational training is back in favor

With 6.6 million unfilled job openings at the end of June, which is slightly below the record set in 2000, high school vocational education is appearing far more attractive (“Vocational Training Is Back as Firms Pair With High Schools to Groom Workers,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 14).  I’ve long argued that career and technical education deserves greater respect because not all students are academically capable.  The appalling dropout rate is evidence.

The major criticism of vocational training is that it is too narrowly focused on jobs in demand today.  What happens in the years ahead when the job picture changes for reasons that are not predictable?  There is truth to that concern, but possession of a bachelor’s degree is no protection against unemployment either.  Overseas outsourcing, merger and acquisitions, and new technology have resulted in those with degrees from marquee-name schools on the unemployment lines.  Moreover, student loan debt continues unabated.

Germany, which has long sorted out students early in their education, has Europe’s lowest youth unemployment.  I think the country is more realistic than we are.

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