PBS News Hour Video: Should more kids skip college for workforce training?

From the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Blog:

The story began by visiting Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, near Boston, MA. There, students can enroll in immersive CTE programs that span throughout their secondary school experience, including culinary arts, skilled trades and automotive technology. In addition to requiring high-level academics for all students, the programs strive to incorporate what they refer to as “live work.” Principal David Wheeler says of these experiences that, “Cosmetology takes clients. Construction, we have done complete renovations of buildings. We have done Web sites for people. We do printing. There is no better way to engage a student than they’re doing real, meaningful work.”

The school has encountered some hesitation from those who still hold outdated perceptions of CTE programs, including concerns about “tracking” specific demographics into technical classes. However, Wheeler noted that the school has produced results for all students. He stated during the program that, “When we do follow-up studies, generally speaking, we hit the 90 — high 90 percent range of students that are either in the work force, continue to be enrolled in college, or have gone into the military. The point is to get you to be a happy, productive citizen.”

To view the segment, click here, and click here to learn more about how you can work with the media in your community to build support for Career and Technical Education (CTE).


Tracking is a bad idea because it limits the education of those placed in either of the tracks, vocational and college. Part of a good liberal college education requires real-life experience in the world outside the classroom. For this purpose, vocational experience is just as valid as an internship at an IT company, law firm, or government agency. And with the increasing availability of online courses, those in vocational professions who are not comfortable in a classroom setting can still get the equivalent of a college education at little or no cost.

I think it’s a question of expectations. For the health of the country (and the world), the minimum expectation should be that every adult either have or be on the path toward obtaining the body of knowledge represented by a high school diploma, whether this is through a formal program or not. Moreover, everyone should be encouraged to continue theire studies -- again, either formally or informally -- to gain a college education. This is a lot easier to do now than it has ever been, and it’s getting easier every day.


I agree, tracking is generally not a successful educational model, although some systems outside of the U.S. - Germany, for example - have done so effectively.  I think that we, in the U.S., need to continue developing opportunities for young adults to become both college and career ready.  

President Obama's Computer Science For All Initiative is one such example of a high school program to prepare students for success in post-secondary workplace training, employment and higher education.  

What are other initiatives - local or national - to support learners in being both college and career ready?

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator