Vocational education and training provides value to our society, just like post-secondary education, yet vocational schools sometimes receive a bad reputation in Florida. I know how important these schools are to the success of many students in Seminole County, and that’s why I am committed to supporting vocational and college-bound preparation.
Higher education options for our students need to be broad and diverse to give students a chance to explore their passions. Our students do not fit into a cookie-cutter mold. Not everyone aspires to be a doctor, lawyer, or financial analyst.
Vocational education and training allow our students to find their passions outside of college and traditional four-year degree programs. Options are not limited to only learning a trade. The world of vocational training continues to expand, along with growth of new technologies. Our understanding of vocational education and training needs must also expand.
Here are three myths and misconceptions that need clearing up.
Myth 1: You will not earn a decent wage with a vocational education degree
First, there are plenty of areas of employment where a vocational education graduate can earn $35,000 – $45,000 per year out of the gate and reach an average of $55,270 per year.
Compared to a four-year degree from a college/university, vocational education and training may not be as expensive for most fields. A student’s debt from school could be more manageable to pay off. The average cost for a four-year education from a public university (in-state) is approximately $36,000. On average, the cost for a private university is about $128,000. The average cost of a trade school education is $33,000.
Because of the lower cost of education, and a faster completion time, a graduate will be able to enter the workforce earlier with less debt. This gives them a head start to begin working in their career. It allows them to start saving towards retirement earlier.
Myth 2: Vocational education and training requires hard, physical labor, where you have to “get your hands dirty.”
Second, there is absolutely nothing wrong with earning a living with your hands. If that is the kind of work that attracts a student, then we should not deny them the opportunity to do so. Society will always have a need for carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc.
However, the notion that physical labor is the kind of work required of all vocational jobs is false.Some notable examples of careers with a vocational education degree:
- Solar Photovoltaic Installers earn an average of $43,010.
- Computer Operators earn an average of $45,320 per year.
- Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations earn an average of $55,200 per year.
- Sales and Related Occupations earn an average of $53,520 per year.
Myth 3: Vocational education degrees are for jobs that are no longer relevant.
With the continuing boom in technology, vocational education is as relevant as ever. Information Technology (IT) continues to grow year after year and you do not need a four-year degree to find suitable work. Demand for jobs in IT is high and career options are diverse. IT does not mean just fixing computers. These jobs require a skill set where vocational education and training programs can thrive.
Finally, Another growing industry is solar technology. As the technology becomes more available and affordable demand will increase. Between 2010 and 2017 jobs in the solar industry grew from about 93,000 to over 250,000. Solar jobs outnumber those in the coal industry and could catch up to jobs in the natural gas industry.
No matter what students decide to do, they should know their options and encouraged to pursue their passions. Otherwise we will limit future generations’ creativity and progress.
About Kristine Kraus
Kristine Kraus is an active volunteer in Seminole County schools and a mother of four Seminole County Public School graduates. Kristine is dedicated to school safety, vocational education and training options for students, and supporting Seminole County teachers and staff. Vote for Kristine Kraus to put a Mom and dedicated leader on the School Board.
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