“Better Vocational Training”

In a New York Times article by Alina Tugend, “Vocation or Exploration? Pondering the Purpose of College” she quotes Alex Tabarrok, author and associate professor at George Mason University:

“At least 40 percent of students drop out of four-year universities before graduation, and it’s even higher out of community colleges,” he said. “We have the highest college dropout rate in the industrialized world. Everyone recognizes that something is not quite right.”
Mr. Tabarrok said that we, as a country, needed to look more closely at emulating apprenticeship programs offered in European countries that turn out highly skilled workers.
“We tend to look down on vocational training in the United States, but in Europe, that’s where the majority of the kids go,” he said. “The U.S. mind-set is that there is only one road to an education and to do anything else admits defeat.”

Seventy-five percent of our high school graduates each year are not likely to earn a college baccalaureate degree. These students eventually comprise the majority of America’s front-line workforce, and the prosperity of this country depends on them. Yet, the skills they leave school with are not the skills American businesses need to return this nation to global competitiveness. Consequently, businesses are increasingly turning to multi-sensory e-Learning (full-motion video and optional word-for-word audio courseware) to effectively re-school their workforce.

Compared with other countries, American front-line workers lag far behind in the sophisticated skills needed to compete internationally: communications, math, science, conceptual thinking, flexibility, responsiveness, and technological expertise. These are skills that most front-line workers in many Asian and European countries possess, to the ultimate economic benefit of those nations. What those countries have learned about education and the workforce has been translated into comprehensive public education programs for the non-college bound student. These programs all but obliterate the conventional lines between education and training.

In the United States, however, the educational system has not changed from that of fifty or more years ago, when most workers’ jobs were de-skilled and required little thinking. Perhaps that was appropriate for an America that led the world in a price-driven mass-production economy. People left school knowing all they would ever have to know in that environment. They did not learn how to get new information or how to continue with a program of life-long learning.

Although the world economic reality has changed greatly, neither American education nor many American businesses have kept pace. Mass production and a price-driven economy are long gone, but most organizations still segregate jobs into non-thinking and thinking jobs. The new truth is that in order to perform on an international level, front-line workers have to think. Unfortunately, most high school students in this country follow an unfocused, teacher-centered, general educational curriculum that prepares them for neither college nor a vocation.

Thanks to the evolution underway in multi-sensory e-Learning — combined with today’s TV and Games learning culture — change is on the horizon. E-Learning is now both here and destined to become prevalent. We must look to that solution in order to help us rebuild an alternate education system that will emphasize skills training (and, its graduates) in the same vein it rewards its college prep tracks.

More on Tuesday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder
ITC Learning

www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com