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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

  • 09.11.14

    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.
  • 09.04.14

    Four-year institutions brace for population shifts

    Colleges and universities are accepting many more students of color, many more students from working class and poor families, and many more people who are sometimes referred to as "nontraditional" students.


in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Help ex-prisoners get back to work

File under: jobs, public perception, civil rights

3 (1 votes)

From: Christine A., Arlington, MA

In 1997, at the end of Buddhist meditation retreat, I volunteered to write to a prisoner, to become his pen pal to support his meditation practice while he was incarcerated. Two years ago he was released. Since then, he has not been able to find a job. No one will hire him because he is a convicted felon. It doesn't matter that he got an associate degree in business while in prison, that he got a certificate in horticulture, or that he learned to train dogs. No one will hire him because he has a criminal record. If it weren't for the fact that a Lutheran minister is paying his rent and giving him money for basic necessities, he would be on the street.

The United States incarcerates more people than anywhere else in the world. Most people go back into the community after serving time. But if they can't find work, how will they survive? They can't. And so, they are condemned, after they paid their debt to society, to a life of poverty -- or they revert to crime. With no opportunity to turn their lives around, what choice do they have? We need reform. First, we need to have jobs waiting for those released from prison. Second, we need to have alternatives to prison sentences for some crimes, such as community service with mentoring, leading to permanent, livable-wage employment. We've tried the stick and it hasn't worked. It's time to try the carrot.


Comments:

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

  • 09.11.14

    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.
  • 09.04.14

    Four-year institutions brace for population shifts

    Colleges and universities are accepting many more students of color, many more students from working class and poor families, and many more people who are sometimes referred to as "nontraditional" students.