Has School Reform Pushed Done a “Dirty Job” on Vocational Preparation?

“I believe we need a national PR campaign for skilled labor.” “A big one.” The nation needs younger workers to replace the many tradespeople over 55 who are retiring because “closing the skills gap doesn’t just benefit future tradesmen and the companies desperate to hire them. It benefits people like me, and anyone else who shares my addiction to paved roads, reliable bridges, heating, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing.–Mike Rowe”

During the past two months a group of folks that represent interests from local businesses to education to talk about how we can fill a large pool of open jobs in our community. It seems unfathomable in a country where the unemployment rate is above 8% that so many job opportunities remain unfilled! Our local industries will be looking to fill as many as 200 positions this coming spring and are very worried they might not find enough reliable labor to fill them. Could part of the problem be that we have bought into the belief that all high school students have to be college ready and have over dosed many of our students on “academic” pursuits? When school accountability is discussed, you never hear about measuring the effectiveness of vocational studies. Although it is not the sole mission of a high school to prepare students for post high school vocations, it is our mission to maximize the opportunities our students are exposed to during their studies here. Not exposing them to the trades and other vocational opportunities is certainly not taking into account the over all needs of the taxpayers who fund our schools. Paris Cooperative High School is undertaking several efforts to expose our students to ALL of their possible opportunities with the implementation of our Academy system this spring. We will also be sponsoring a job fair this April 24th in Eveland Gym. We want to be a partner with families and the local community to create multiple opportunities for our students.

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