In many ways the future has never been more uncertain for high school students. With outsourcing threatening even high paying white collar careers, some young people are wondering if any career is truly bulletproof. Perhaps that is why so many high schools are looking for ways to train their students for real careers, rather than simply preparing them for more and more education. Making real career training a part of the high school experience gives young people a foundation they can build on for the rest of their lives whether they ultimately go on to college or not.
Computer Programming and Computer Training
Computer skills are critical in the modern world, and many of those skills can be taught while students are still in high school. Computer programming and web development skills can become a major part of a high school curriculum, and that can help prepare students to move right from school to a high paying career in IT. While many companies prefer that their programmers and other computer professionals hold a college degree, others are willing to hire bright high school graduates who have already demonstrated their knowledge and their programming abilities. Combining formal computer programming and computer skills classes with after school opportunities and internships can boost the confidence of students, and provide businesses with the highly skilled workers they need to compete effectively on a global scale.
High school students can prepare students to earn a paycheck by teaching them solid mechanical skills. Learning skills like auto repair and body work can be a real boon for students who prefer to enter the work world before, or instead of, moving on to college. Unlike so many jobs, the job of auto mechanic is a very difficult one to outsource, and that can create a sense of job security that even many college graduates do not have. After all, when a grocery store needs their refrigeration unit fixed, or an individual needs their car fixed, they need to hire a local person to do the work. That means that the mechanical trades are likely to be among the most secure going forward.
There will always be a need for carpenters, and for people who know how to build things. Vocational schools can help students prepare for their careers by helping them build the carpentry skills they will need to succeed. Schools can teach not only the basics of carpentry, from framing up a building to setting the walls, but also the geometry and mathematics that go into finding the right angles and designing the optimal building structure. Schools can also enhance the value to their students by offering apprenticeships with master carpenters who can reinforce what the students have learned in class and help them build on what they already know.
Carpentry is another area where both students and schools can benefit from internships apprenticeships and special training programs. These types of programs have been used for centuries throughout Europe, and many European countries still rely as much on apprenticeship training as they do on formal higher education.
A good plumber can earn enough to enjoy a solidly middle class lifestyle, and schools can help to train future plumbers within their classrooms. Plumbing is another profession that is hard to outsource, and another one that lends itself well to an apprenticeship program. High schools can team up with local plumbing firms, and with local businesses who plan to hire plumbers to give their students immediate access to real world learning opportunities, and immediate access to jobs when they graduate.
While preparing high school students for a college career is certainly a worthy goal, it is important that high schools not lose sight of the value of vocational and career training as well. A surprising number of vocational and technical students do go on to college. The difference is that they do so possessing real world skills they can use to earn a very good living as well.