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Stigma of Technical Schools Changing

Take some time this holiday season and think about what you want in life. Don’t let what others think deter you from choosing a career in a technical field.

I grew up, hearing that I would be college-bound. My parents, though they both desired to go to college, made life choices based on economics. Their generation did a good job of selling four-year degrees to us, but now we have good-paying technical jobs available but not enough workers to fill them. These jobs require two-year courses or certification programs. Apparently, many believe it’s an image problem that makes work associated with technical schools seem inferior to four-year college degrees in business or history.

Take South Dakota, for example. The state, according to an ArgusLeader.com article, faces a shortage of workers interested in skilled trades such as manufacturing, electrical work, machining and welding. In fact, Southeast Tech cut its precision machining program last year because of lack of student interest.

“By and large, we are at least two generations of saying, ‘It’s a college degree that will get you ahead, not a manufacturing career,” Southeast Tech President Jeff Holcomb said. “Manufacturing as a whole has an image of being dirty, dark and dingy and sweatshopish, and that is as far from the truth as it can be. Today’s manufacturing is very automated, very technical and very clean … light years from what it was 30 years ago.”

One key to getting more students into technical careers is starting as young as middle school and informing students of opportunities. Georgia just became one of the few remaining states to require students to pick a career path starting in ninth grade.

According to an article in the Metro Atlanta state news, the objective is to raise career and college readiness for all students. Career pathways initiatives of some degree are already in place in most states.

If students hope to land jobs in the future – nearly half of which are forecast to go to people with an associate degree or occupational certificate – then Georgia has to make this move, said State School Superintendent John Barge.

“We must change how and what we do in K-12 education,” Barge said. “The status quo isn’t working, given the remedial courses required of many Georgia college students and the business community’s complaint that many graduates entering the work force lack essential skills.”

-Sheila

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