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Vocational Education Is All Grown Up

Vocational Education Is All Grown Up

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Vocational education colleges have evolved beyond ‘separate education’ that was once viewed as insignificant. Where once people believed that vocational colleges were only for low-status jobs has now developed into a competitive career preparation axis that produces the same quality (and sometimes better quality) professionals as the ones who graduate from a four-year university.

The New Vision For Vocations

Vocational Careers In Debra Bragg’s Opportunities and Challenges for the new "Vocationalism" (2001), she lists core principles and emphasizes the following attributes.

  • Career clusters that extend from entry-level positions through professional levels in fields considered integral to the new economy.
  • An integrated curriculum consisting of both academic and vocational elements.
  • Active teaching strategies, learner-centered instruction, constructive theories, and project-based approaches to teaching.
  • More holistic instruction and a curriculum that is more meaningful in applicability.

One of the elements that have made vocational colleges such as success has been the partnership between the business community and vocational colleges. This allows colleges to more accurately predict future corporate and professional training needs in regards to educational development, identifying new markets and create training and preparation specializations.

A Valuable Resource

Many vocational colleges have implemented corporate collaborations between the business community and the colleges, which has resulted in customized training programs. Many graduates who have participated from these programs have often found work directly after of graduation into the business with which the college has a contracted collaboration with. The partnership is mutually beneficial as it provides valuable revenue for the college while providing real world experience and skills that will be needed after graduation.

In fact, for profit college and business collaboration have been so successful that community colleges have not only taken notice but have tried to steal away some of the future professionals from vocational colleges. In a recent article by Kent A. Farnsworth titled The 4 Lessons That Community Colleges Can Learn From For-Profit Institutions, Farnsworth a former community-college president said that he was amazed at how many students chose to enroll in technical programs at nearby for profit colleges even when the costs were lowered at the community college. Students saw more value at the for profit colleges that placed more emphasis on job training and placement than general education.

In anther Chronicle of Higher Education article titled Governors to Colleges: Focus on the Economy by Andrew Mytelka, the author says that colleges and universities need to graduate highly skilled workers that can effectively compete in the global economy as well as local areas and regions.

For-profit colleges have seen a non-stop growth in student enrollment as vocational colleges have removed the ‘separate education’ and lesser quality stigmata previously attached to them. They offer more flexible classes for working parents; career changers and offers high school graduates a more genuine observation into the business world. In addition networking at vocational colleges is often easier and centered on a friendlier foundation while being an ideal starting-status career center that have often propelled them past the four-year university graduates.

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