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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

  • 09.17.14

    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.


in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Assist in re-education if jobs not available

File under: education, welfare, job training, civil rights

4 (1 votes)

From: David F., Lafayette, LA

I had hoped to supplement my government disability income, but the system is very quick to penalize you and to remove benefits or to make you pay for them. So working part time can cause you to have less money. Of course, blind people have lived with high unemployment rates, from 68 to 80 percent, for decades. If our unemployment were in line with the national average (nearly 10 percent), we'd actually be doing very well!

I thought education would help me get to a better place and leave an abusive work situation. I obtained a Master of Library and Information Science degree in 1998, and looked for work all over the country. I thought my good grades and participation in campus organizations relating to my degree might help. I sometimes wonder if I'll ever work anywhere, especially anywhere supportive that might really value me as a person and care if I show up or not.

I do think education is a key, but perhaps shorter kinds of education such as specialized training that builds on a degree but is not a degree itself. I am told now that my state's rehabilitation agency will not fund any further training for me, not even something online. I had hoped to be chosen to compete on a trivia-type game show and use the possible winnings for further my education. But this simply has not happened. All I can say is education has to count for something, and surely someone out there believes in chances and can think out-of-the-box in a notable way. I have not yet found this person, but I hope I do one day and am able to have a successful employment history.


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

  • 09.17.14

    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.