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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.

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in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Pay living wages for ALL work (and institue a jobs program)

File under: income, jobs

0 (0 votes)

From: Nicholas B., Chevy Chase, MD

First, the short term. We have very high levels of unemployment, which will put many more people into poverty or serious financial uncertainty. If we let the private sector take its time to recover, we may have unemployment this high for years; economic forecasts show very slow growth in the next two years. There is a demand gap. A stimulus by the government, that would hopefully be focused on jobs, would do a great deal over the short term to boost demand and bring unemployment back down to pre-crisis levels. That is a very doable fix to help fight poverty, here and now.

Over the long term, most people in poverty do work, but they are paid such menial wages. Wages for the working class over the last 30 years have stagnated, while inequality grows. I believe in a living wage for doing one's life work. An egregious example is a mother's work of rearing children, which goes unpaid. There are estimates that rearing a child is worth tens of thousands of dollars a year, but stay at home parents are paid nothing. Think of the contributions to society they make. Many single parents must also work paying jobs as well as raise children, and I believe in a country as wealthy as ours, we should be able to provide enough of a safety net to ensure financial stability for struggling families. Perhaps a more progressive taxation system would allow for a more robust social safety net.


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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

  • 04.28.16

    “My Frain is Bried”: Shadowing a Student

    "Welcome to our world." Educators take an entire school day to shadow a student and walk in their shoes. We find out how it went for one teacher.
  • 04.21.16

    High School Job Prep

    Want a job? So does every student ever! Maybe career and technical education classes are the way to go. Shaun Dougherty says you could be more likely to graduate and earn more if you do.
  • 04.14.16

    How Tutoring Helps Students

    Private tutoring is no longer just for the rich kids. Our guest tells us how the individual attention improves student learning and graduation rates.
  • 04.07.16

    Is Advanced Math Necessary?

    In our last episode, Andrew Hacker argued that math courses like algebra are unnecessary for most high schoolers. This week's guest couldn't disagree more.