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The Importance of Vocational Training

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About to graduate from high school and dreading the idea of college? Did you know there are other options?

Vocational training is one gaining national attention lately.

Vocational training is increasingly becoming a vital component of the U.S. economy because it prepares students for in-demand career opportunities in the skilled trades.

If you’re interested in a skilled trades career, now is the perfect time to explore this field. While nearly every industry is experiencing a labor shortage, the skilled trades in particular are in short supply of qualified workers—especially now that baby boomers are retiring.[1]

Florida’s construction boom, for example, has had contractors scrambling to hire plumbers, electricians, carpenters and brick masons.[2] On the opposite side of the country in Washington, employers are desperately looking for skilled workers amidst Seattle’s thriving construction industry.[3]

Suffice it to say, job candidates with vocational training are sought after nationwide.

Learn more about vocational training and initiatives to support it in this article.

What Is Vocational Training?

student in vocational class

Vocational training—also often referred to as career or technical training—is a type of postsecondary education. Instead of pursuing a four-year degree at a traditional university or college, students enroll in vocational training to become qualified professionals in a skilled trade.[4]

Vocational training programs can take anywhere from eight weeks to two years to complete.[5]

For many young people, attending a trade school has many benefits:

  • They can focus on building a skill set specific to a particular job.
  • They can avoid accumulating the student debt often associated with a four-year degree.
  • They can embark on a career in an in-demand field.

Examples of types of vocational training at RSI include:

Are There Initiatives to Advance Vocational Training?

Public and private entities alike have been implementing a number of measures to boost vocational training opportunities and close the skills gap plaguing the U.S. economy.

On a national level, President Trump issued an executive order to develop a strategy to expand vocational training and apprenticeship opportunities for students via the National Council for the American Worker.

The president also signed into law a bipartisan bill that is supposed to better align the country’s education system with its growing workforce demands.[6]

States like Texas are too passing laws aimed at fixing the labor shortage in the skilled trades. The Lone Star State recently passed a law to form a commission to determine how schools and businesses can make changes that could ultimately help close the skills gap.[7]

The private sector is similarly dedicated to bolstering options for those who prefer hands-on, compact vocational training to a four-year college program.

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s has partnered up with several other businesses and organizations—including Samsung, Timberland, 3M and the National Association of Home Builders—to found the “Generation T” initiative to promote the skilled trades. The initiative launched an online marketplace for jobs, apprenticeships and education programs.

What Industry Leaders Say in Support of Vocational Training

Some employers are scouting high schools for skilled workers. Eager to find good employees to lighten their current staff’s workload, businesses are hiring high school students and recent graduates to perform simple tasks.

Working skilled trade jobs allows the high schoolers to learn about career opportunities they might not have otherwise considered. Aside from providing young people with work experience and helping businesses meet personnel needs, these part-time jobs also “help employers build future full-time staff,” Cameron Tobey, co-owner of Tobey auto group, told the Seattle Times.

In Iowa, the state’s Department of Education, Des Moines Public schools, Homebuilders of Iowa and Turner Construction have jointly organized the Construction Camp for Girls. This camp invites middle and high school girls to explore the skilled trades.

“To build our talent pipeline, we need to reach students at a younger age and show them that these are high-demand, good-paying jobs,” Jeremy Lindquist, training director for Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 33 told the Des Moines Register.

Getting girls and women interested in vocational careers is crucial to closing the skills gap in the trades.

Is Vocational Training the Right Choice for Me?

Enrolling in a vocational training program can help you launch a career in a flourishing industry without being weighed down by enormous student debt.

The Refrigeration School has been training students for various skilled trades for over 50 years. If you are considering vocational training and have any questions, give us a call at 888-671-5803.

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Additional Sources