An interesting (and ongoing–this is nothing new, really) debate in the public education sector includes the role of “vocational” education. Meanwhile, some of us are still wondering what happened to “shop” and “home economics.” During one session at the recent Financial Literacy Summit I chuckled a bit when a speaker asked how many schools were providing “consumer science” courses. “Oh, you mean home ec?” The speaker went out to point out that she’d counseled a college student regarding his financial problems only to discover that he was eating every meal out because he didn’t know how to cook.
A recent study conducted in the UK asked what type of qualification or training would help young people succeed in their career. The answers came back: on the job training (93%), apprenticeships (90%) and internships (84%) topped the table compared to 78% who said degrees. Now I’m not minimizing the value of a college education–any education has value–nor am I trying to start a political debate. But whether we are talking about adult education courses of the public education system in America, there’s a lot to be said for integrating “hands on” learning. I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers the response to students who announced they were studying for a liberal arts or some other esoteric degree: “You want fries with that?”
Education at any and all levels is not a “one size fits all” proposition. The following is an article about an article that appeared in the most recent issue of Training Doctor News.
Here is a really fascinating article (http://www.thenation.com/node/167476) comparing the standard United States educational system approach of getting everyone the same, basic, k-12 education and the more pragmatic approach of other nations such as Switzerland and the Netherlands. The impetus for the article was a perceived draw back of the Obama plan and the recent announcement to invest 1 billion dollars to increase the partnership between high schools, colleges and employers.
Here are just a few highlights, we recommend taking 5 minutes to read the whole article:
- A draw back of the plan is that it is focused on post-high school, while in many Western European nations, the final years of high school are customized depending on whether the student is going to go on to college, go on to a technical school, or enter the workforce (in other words, preparing young adults for the workforce is addressed much earlier)
- Currently, the (US) youth unemployment rate (26 years and under) is 22%; in the Netherlands the youth unemployment rate is 5%.
- In the United States, only 20% of 26-year-olds have a credential of some type.
- The Swiss government analyzes business needs and the skills required to achieve those needs and plans for government sponsored schooling to feed the needs of business; in the US there are just a few non-profit organizations that bridge between the three: government, schooling and business.
Nancy Hofmann, author of the book, Schooling in the Workplace, is quoted in the article as saying: [in the US] “We behave as though nobody needs to learn to work. We behave as if somehow education alone will launch you into a career.”
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