American RadioWorks |
A student learns welding at a vocational high school in Massachusetts. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Ready to Work

Vocational education was once a staple of American schooling, preparing some kids for blue-collar futures while others were put on a path to college. Today the new mantra is "college for all." But not everyone wants to go to college, and more than half of jobs don't require a bachelor's degree. Many experts say it's time to bring back career and technical education. This American RadioWorks documentary explores how vocational education is being reimagined.

Recent Posts

  • 09.17.14

    A company short on skilled workers creates its own college-degree program

    At a Toyota plant in Kentucky, young people are learning how to fix robots, earning associate's degrees and graduating with jobs that pay up to $80,000 a year.
  • 09.11.14

    A 21st-century vocational high school

    For years, vocational education was seen as a lesser form of schooling, tracking some kids into programs that ended up limiting their future opportunities. Today, in the nation's best vocational programs, things are different.
  • 09.10.14

    Career academies: A new twist on vocational ed

    Across the country, thousands of high schools are transforming into career academies. The idea is that students will be more engaged if they see how academics are connected to the world of work. And they’ll be more likely to get the postsecondary schooling they need to support themselves in today’s economy.
  • 09.09.14

    The troubled history of vocational education

    Vocational education was once used to track low-income students off to work while wealthier kids went to college. But advocates for today's career and technical education say things have changed, and graduates of vocational programs may have the advantage over graduates of traditional high schools.

American RadioWorks |
A student learns welding at a vocational high school in Massachusetts. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Ready to Work

Vocational education was once a staple of American schooling, preparing some kids for blue-collar futures while others were put on a path to college. Today the new mantra is "college for all." But not everyone wants to go to college, and more than half of jobs don't require a bachelor's degree. Many experts say it's time to bring back career and technical education. This American RadioWorks documentary explores how vocational education is being reimagined.

Recent Posts

  • 09.17.14

    A company short on skilled workers creates its own college-degree program

    At a Toyota plant in Kentucky, young people are learning how to fix robots, earning associate's degrees and graduating with jobs that pay up to $80,000 a year.
  • 09.11.14

    A 21st-century vocational high school

    For years, vocational education was seen as a lesser form of schooling, tracking some kids into programs that ended up limiting their future opportunities. Today, in the nation's best vocational programs, things are different.
  • 09.10.14

    Career academies: A new twist on vocational ed

    Across the country, thousands of high schools are transforming into career academies. The idea is that students will be more engaged if they see how academics are connected to the world of work. And they’ll be more likely to get the postsecondary schooling they need to support themselves in today’s economy.
  • 09.09.14

    The troubled history of vocational education

    Vocational education was once used to track low-income students off to work while wealthier kids went to college. But advocates for today's career and technical education say things have changed, and graduates of vocational programs may have the advantage over graduates of traditional high schools.

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BALLENGER, THOMAS CASS, Republican Party
North Carolina

Total number of trips - 5
Total cost of trips - $7,184.81

Average cost per trip - $1,436.96
Total number of days spent traveling - 12 days
Rank of representative - 467 (Out of 638)


Individual trips


Sponsor(s) - University of Miami, Dante B. Fascell North-South Center
Dates - March 24, 2002 - March 25, 2002 (2 days)
Location(s) - Miami, FL

Purpose - keynote North-South Center/U.S. Army War College Conference
Notes - spouse Donna D. Ballenger

Travel Cost - $1,879.00
Lodging Cost - $110.00
Meal Cost -
Other Cost -
Total Cost - $1,989.00

Additional family members - Yes


Sponsor(s) - National Coffee Association of USA, Inc.
Dates - March 6, 2003 - March 9, 2003 (4 days)
Location(s) - Boca Raton, FL

Purpose - Keynote conference, attend panels
Notes - Spouse Donna Ballenger accompanied

Travel Cost - $630.95
Lodging Cost - $524.70
Meal Cost - $250.00
Other Cost -
Total Cost - $1,405.65

Additional family members - Yes


Sponsor(s) - ESOP Association Carolinas Chapter
Dates - February 5, 2004 - February 6, 2004 (2 days)
Location(s) - Charleston, SC

Purpose - Guest speaker and award recipient
Notes - Other expense: taxi

Travel Cost - $840.70
Lodging Cost - $144.48
Meal Cost - $17.00
Other Cost - $155.48
Total Cost - $1,157.66

Additional family members - No


Sponsor(s) - Colombian Coffee Federation
Dates - December 1, 2004 - December 3, 2004 (3 days)
Location(s) - Bogota, Colombia

Purpose - Attend annual meeting of Coffee Federation, and Official business
Notes - Charlotte, NC - Bogota, Colombia - Charlotte, NC

Travel Cost - $1,991.50
Lodging Cost -
Meal Cost - $150.00
Other Cost -
Total Cost - $2,141.50

Additional family members - No


Sponsor(s) - Wilmington Bulk LLC
Dates - July 11, 2004 - July 11, 2004 (1 days)
Location(s) - Wilmington, NC - Kenansville, NC

Purpose - Tour of Wilmington Bulk Port Authority and lunch in Kenansville
Notes - Washington, DC (Dulles) - Wilmington, NC - Kenansville, NC - Washington, DC (Dulles)

Travel Cost - $471.00
Lodging Cost -
Meal Cost - $20.00
Other Cost -
Total Cost - $491.00

Additional family members - No

American RadioWorks |
A student learns welding at a vocational high school in Massachusetts. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Ready to Work

Vocational education was once a staple of American schooling, preparing some kids for blue-collar futures while others were put on a path to college. Today the new mantra is "college for all." But not everyone wants to go to college, and more than half of jobs don't require a bachelor's degree. Many experts say it's time to bring back career and technical education. This American RadioWorks documentary explores how vocational education is being reimagined.

Recent Posts

  • 09.17.14

    A company short on skilled workers creates its own college-degree program

    At a Toyota plant in Kentucky, young people are learning how to fix robots, earning associate's degrees and graduating with jobs that pay up to $80,000 a year.
  • 09.11.14

    A 21st-century vocational high school

    For years, vocational education was seen as a lesser form of schooling, tracking some kids into programs that ended up limiting their future opportunities. Today, in the nation's best vocational programs, things are different.
  • 09.10.14

    Career academies: A new twist on vocational ed

    Across the country, thousands of high schools are transforming into career academies. The idea is that students will be more engaged if they see how academics are connected to the world of work. And they’ll be more likely to get the postsecondary schooling they need to support themselves in today’s economy.
  • 09.09.14

    The troubled history of vocational education

    Vocational education was once used to track low-income students off to work while wealthier kids went to college. But advocates for today's career and technical education say things have changed, and graduates of vocational programs may have the advantage over graduates of traditional high schools.