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Trump Administration Pushing Vocational Education – Good Or Bad?

Back to school

There has been a large debate on Capitol Hill over the future of education in America, and that debate has spread to the minds of everyday Americans and experts. Some are in favor of expanding vocational education, while others worry about what the lack of general education can mean for those individuals long term.

An article in the New York Times cites a study done by The Brookings Institution, which shows that people who get a vocational education can actually earn less than those who follow a traditional education path.

An example of a vocational education would be that acquired by an HVAC technician, a worker who earns, on average, $48,000 a year.

Eric Hanushek, one of the researchers from the study and a Stanford Professor, wrote in a Wall Street Journal piece that America doesn’t need workers trained in a specialty; what it needs are more general and broad educations for its students.

“The largest problem of skills in the U.S. today isn’t a shortage of young workers with specific competencies. Instead it is a need for more general cognitive skills that give workers the ability to adapt to new circumstances and new jobs.”

The article in the New York Times states that getting a better vocational program for the country is a good idea and that it “remains a good path to good blue-collar jobs” for many Americans, but that the current system and any future system is not “a perfect solution to blue-collar stagnation.”

Skilled trades are experiencing a growth in demand; the HVAC equipment market is expected to grow by 4.9% in the next few years, meaning more technicians are needed. But the current workforce is aging, says the New York Times.

“We also need to think about how to retain people as they age.”

No clear solution has been offered just yet, but the Trump administration’s goals of promoting the vocational path could be either a step in the right or the wrong direction.

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