Wanted: Skilled Tradespeople

We believe there is more than one pathway to a successful career, and we’re thrilled to see so many states taking steps to support and fund Career and Technical Education. There is a true need and a high demand for skilled tradespeople in the U.S., and we think California is right on the money in the direction they’re heading.

From PBS Newshour:

“FONTANA, Calif. — At a steel factory dwarfed by the adjacent Auto Club Speedway, Fernando Esparza is working toward his next promotion.

Esparza is a 46-year-old mechanic for Evolution Fresh, a subsidiary of Starbucks that makes juices and smoothies. He’s taking a class in industrial computing taught by a community college at a local manufacturing plant in the hope it will bump up his wages.

It’s a pretty safe bet. The skills being taught here are in high demand. That’s in part because so much effort has been put into encouraging high school graduates to go to college for academic degrees rather than for training in industrial and other trades that many fields like his face worker shortages.

Now California is spending $6 million on a campaign to revive the reputation of vocational education, and $200 million to improve the delivery of it.

“It’s a cultural rebuild,” said Randy Emery, a welding instructor at the College of the Sequoias in California’s Central Valley.

Standing in a cavernous teaching lab full of industrial equipment on the college’s Tulare campus, Emery said the decades-long national push for high school graduates to get bachelor’s degrees left vocational programs with an image problem, and the nation’s factories with far fewer skilled workers than needed.”

To read more, click here.

Reframing How We Talk About CTE

For so long, Career and Technical Education (CTE) has labored under the stigma of being a “lesser” path to a successful career… We loved the fair-minded approach David Etzwiler, the CEO of Siemens Foundation took in this article!

From Huffpost:

As the White House shines a spotlight on workforce development to address the skills gap, the German model of apprenticeships has been appropriately offered as the gold standard from which the United States can learn. Every year in Germany, close to a million students participate in the nation’s dual system of education. Programs combine classroom with on-the-job training and a clear pathway to higher education and a quality job, contributing to Germany’s low youth unemployment rate and its leadership in advanced manufacturing.

But even if the United States could create our own version of the dual system today, we would still be at a relative disadvantage due to something much more fundamental: the stigma attached to vocational education, or what the U.S. calls career technical education (CTE). That is the first hurdle to address.

America’s CTE system provides many students with similar benefits to that of the German program. It enables students to enhance their core high school academic courses with technical, real world skills that prepare them for the future. In other words, CTE is a powerful tool already addressing the skills gap. It can open millions more doors into the middle class and is an important part of the prescription to what ails us today.

But one disadvantage CTE has compared to the dual system is that it isn’t fully embraced by students and parents, or they simply aren’t aware of it. In Germany, the dual system is as prestigious as university. In the U.S., CTE is often mischaracterized as an inferior educational pathway to college prep. For some time now, CTE enrollment rates have been flat.

To read more, click here.

Where have all the skilled workers gone?

From the Houston Business Journal:

There was a time in this country when a college degree was considered the key to the American Dream. However, today, university education is synonymous with crippling student debt, frequent dropouts, underemployment or recent graduates working outside of their chosen fields.

What happened to the pathway leading to the American Dream? Supply and demand. Currently, there are an overwhelming amount of college graduates in the U.S. – the most there have ever been in the history of American education – and it’s not only affecting the supply and demand of industries; it’s creating immense competition within the workforce. More

college graduates are vying for jobs that require little to no education, pushing them further behind in their career progression. Meanwhile, employers in the automotive and home-repair industries, for example, cannot find the quality skilled workers they need. In its 2015 Talent Shortage Survey, ManpowerGroup ranked jobs in the skilled trades – think electricians, plumbers and auto technicians – as the hardest to fill. American businesses simply are not able to find applicants with the technical competencies they need; and this is something that is echoed by the employers in the Greater Houston area as well.

Our state, and the nation as a whole, faces another issue that threatens to stall our progress and slow our economy: a serious lack of skilled workers.

Changing America’s educational system

In today’s society, vocational careers are commonly perceived as inferior or too “blue collar.” Yet, a recent analysis of the federal College Scorecard data and U.S. labor market trends finds that students who attend an industry-aligned, quality postsecondary technical educational institute are earning more, on average, after 10 years than their peers from some of the nation’s liberal arts colleges and two-year community colleges. Given these realities, it is important that we as a community break down the stereotypes and barriers for students interested in pursuing careers in skilled labor industries. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 40 percent of students starting four-year colleges and 60-70 percent of students starting two-year colleges do not graduate. Created from the College Scorecard data, the report Preparing our Students for Career Success: What Parents Should Know analyzes how emerging and decades-old economic trends are affecting the American workforce. ” Read more…