Vocational or technical education programs for high school can provide students with the opportunity not only to learn a trade but also be immersed in their desired field to determine whether that career path is the right choice for them. Vocational programs for high school students provide beneficial job skills that can be used before or after college and even as a direct entry opportunity into the workforce.
In 2002, there were approximately 18,000 public high schools who were participating in career or technical education programs based on statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. These high schools offer vocational education programs to high school students to develop job skills before entering the workforce. Around 88 percent of public high schools in the United States offered at least one occupational program in 2002. The growing trend in the United States education system has been to provide more personal training for career education.
Vocational training focuses on specific training for a career or field. This hands-on training can be helpful in high school as students make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. Many schools offer basic vocational programs in construction, auto mechanics and manufacturing, while others have expanded options to include business management, health and human services, agricultural sciences, art and design, TV production, computer graphics, computer technology, education and other programs to provide a variety of opportunity, so students can explore numerous career options.
A wide variety of vocational education programs for high school students can provide hands-on experience in a real work environment. These skills can provide long-term benefits, as high school students can learn to adapt to new situations and develop necessary problem solving skills. Success in vocational-education programs can develop work ethic, feelings of self-worth, communication skills and the ability to relate to others, as well as life skills that are important in the transition to post-high school life. Vocational-education programs can provide a positive learning environment in which students have first-hand knowledge of managing their time, finances and other aspects of their lives. The focus of vocational-education programs is for high school students to develop tools, so they can succeed.
Vocation or technical training not only provides high school students with the ability to develop skills at present, but can also prepare them for the workforce and increase the opportunity to access jobs later. Vocational programs can be either at schools with basic classes in the trade, on actual job sites or both.
Work on actual job sites allows students the opportunity to work with company employees and clients on a regular basis. The ability to work on projects on-site can help students understand if it is the right area for them and provide a networking opportunity to talk about the field with seasoned professionals. Such programs can help provide basic knowledge with real working experience necessary to enter the workforce directly after high school without a college degree. On-site programs often offer a personalized approach with specific deadlines to meet and the support of a mentor who can answer questions and provide guidance in the subject area.
If a student shows serious interest, employers often invest in them to replace those who are retiring in the workforce as employers look at them as trained applicants with the ability to perform in a skilled occupation. Even employers who require a college education may offer the opportunity for students to come back and be considered for first hire.
Participation in vocation-education programs in high school can help a person decide if this is the right career choice and avoid investing in an education that won’t be used. This can give them the ability to make critical decisions regarding their education. For instance, in some states, schools have started to offer student-teaching opportunities for seniors in high school. These programs offer the ability to work one-on-one with a teacher who is a mentor. Unfortunately, many colleges save the student teaching experience until the last year of the degree, making it difficult for someone to really know whether they want to teach.
In addition to the skills and personal experience gained from a vocational-training program, many schools also offer the option to earn dual credit, so the training is put towards high school and college credits at the same time. Many high schools work in collaboration with local colleges to provide the dual-credit option.
Vocational education programs have a myth that it is only available to those who have behavioral disorders as an alternative-education program. Although it is often beneficial to have such programs in order to make a basis for career education, vocational-education programs for all high school students can provide substantial work experience in helping them transition to the future workforce.