Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Give Tech Schools Some Love

There’s a great article in a recent version of The Economist highlighting vocational training; specifically, the short shrift such training is usually given. While the number of students attending four year universities has grown exponentially since 1980, the number of students at vocational schools has dropped, which is a shame. Now, there’s a generation of students that now feel ill-served by their university experience, wondering where the jobs are. There are a lot of people wondering if college is really all it’s cracked up to be. It’s just a simple fact that not every student is college material.

Meanwhile, the market is shifting. As the article notes, the
Council of Economic Advisors “projects faster-growing demand for those with a two-year technical-college degree or specific training, than for those with a full university degree.” The jobs projected to be in demand across the next decade are in industries such as nursing, pharmacology, and yes, trades, glass included. Yet, our educational system is woefully inadequate for students who wish to go down that path. There are some promising programs at the state level, but few nationally-coordinated ones. Instead, it’s up to the trades themselves to develop and support these.

Here at the NGA, we’re on top on this. As you know, most technical schools in the US do not have curriculum covering glass installation. Traditionally, the industry has trained its own. We’re looking into some partnerships that will help this. Soon, students at trade schools across the country will be able to take high-level, glass specific training on for credit toward a certificate at their local vocational school. They’ll also be able to couple that with an internship in the field. It’s a small step, but an important one. As you know, glass can be an extremely fulfilling career. We hope the generation coming up gets the chance to experience that, too. Hopefully, programs like this (and others) can help. We’ll send out more details soon.

Traditionally, Americans want to push their students into four-year universities. As the graduate of one myself, I can’t deny that college can be an enriching experience. But there’s a whole segment of students for whom that’s not the best chance to succeed. Hopefully, a meaningful shift toward vocational education will give those students a fair chance, too.

Matt Rumbaugh
Sr. Manager of Education, Training, and Certification

National Glass Association, Window & Door Dealers Alliance

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