Vocational education is real education

Educator Nisha Choksi at TEDxCranbrookSchoolsWomen (Photo: TEDxCranbrookSchoolsWomen)

Educator Nisha Choksi at TEDxCranbrookSchoolsWomen (Photo: TEDxCranbrookSchoolsWomen)

Vocational education has a bad rep, says Nisha Choksi, who studies the effect of vocational training on economic development.

“Some people believe that students go into vocational education if they’re troublemakers or low-achievers,” Choksi says at TEDxCranbrookSchoolsWomen. “Other people think that vocational education is for those individuals who don’t want to go to college or could never get in. And vocational education is also often thought to be the type of training that prepares individuals for manual labor, low-wage jobs, or jobs that somehow make one ‘dirty’ in some way.”

This is not true, says Choksi, but these attitudes persist in young people around the world. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company polled youth from Brazil, Germany, India, Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States and found that nearly 2/3 of the youth surveyed believed that vocational education was less valued by society.

From the McKinsey & Company 2012 report, “Education to employment: Designing a system that works” by Dominic Barton, Diana Farrell, and Mona Mourshed

From the McKinsey & Company 2012 report, “Education to employment: Designing a system that works” by Dominic Barton, Diana Farrell, and Mona Mourshed

“We’ve become so consumed by this notion that vocational education is not very beneficial for students that we’ve really come to disregard it,” she says. “I think we need to take a second look at vocational education.”

Image from OnlineCollege.org

Image from OnlineCollege.org

Why? Because vocational education offers a wealth of benefits to students, Choksi says. Vocational programs train students for many high-demand (and high-wage) jobs, develop practical skillsets and — because of the focus on hands-on learning and apprenticeship — often engage students at a higher level than traditional classroom learning.

“Vocational education is useful for a wide range of students,” Choksi says. “It’s a good option for those who don’t think college is a great fit and it’s also good for the student who might want to take some time off in between high school and college because they want to gain some real world experience.”

Vocational education is also good for the global economy, says Choksi. She quotes workforce analysts ManpowerGroup’s 2014 Talent Shortage Survey, which found that the number one employee shortage identified by employers is in the skilled trades.

From the paper, "The Talent Shortage Continues: How the Ever Changing Role of HR Can Bridge the Gap" from workforce analysts ManpowerGroup

From the paper, “The Talent Shortage Continues: How the Ever Changing Role of HR Can Bridge the Gap” from workforce analysts ManpowerGroup

In fact, the top three areas of employee shortage — skilled workers, engineers and technicians — all involve some sort of vocational training . “[Right now] we don’t have enough people in the talent pool to fill these jobs,” she says.

How to get people into these jobs — and offer quality education opportunities to more students? Reconceptualize vocational education, Choksi says. And she has some ideas on how to make that happen.

Watch Choksi’s entire talk to learn more:

2 Comments

  1. Nishkarsh Mehra

    The only solution to unemployment across india is voccational training only.

  2. I would have never thought that vocational schools are a good option for those who don’t think college is a great fit. My son just finished his first year of college and wasn’t to impressed with it. I would bet the this would be something to look into in hopes that it is a good fit for him!

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