skilled worker
vocational school
October 14, 2011

Vocational Schools Face Cuts

Vo-Tech schools train qualified workers, but they’re dealing with budget issues too.

Nick Senniti: I don’t really like the second shift, but you got to start somewhere.”

Gary: Despite the worst job market in decades — one that is even tougher for young people — 20- year-old Nick Senniti got hired right out of high school. And job offers these days are scarce, but he recieved…

Nick: Three, I think.

Gary: Three offers!

Nick graduated in 2009 as a certified welder from a career and technical education high school, or what used to be called vocational school. Vocational schools, also known as trade or career schools, teach students the skills needed to perform a particular job.

Nick now works for air products in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a global company that designs and builds high-tech equipment and devices. But right now, federal money for vocational education is on the chopping block. So, getting a job like Nick’s could be tougher.

This year funding for vocational education was cut by $140 million and President Obama wants to cut another 20% next year, even though his administration wants to increase overall education funding by 11%.

President Obama wants America to produce the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, and the White House has been pushing students to concentrate on things like math, literacy and history to prepare for college and the jobs of the future. But critics say that vocational schools are the only real alternative to attending public schools. And that if the U.S. doesn’t produce skilled workers, those jobs could go elsewhere.

John McGlade, president and ceo of air products, says that it is hard to find skilled workers and sometimes these positions can go unfilled for twelve months.

John McGlade: You need people who are electronic experts, operations experts and mechanics. Without support and continued development of a skilled workforce we’re not going to be able to fill the jobs.

Gary: Budget cuts could really hurt schools like Nick’s school, Lehigh Career and Technical Institute in Pennsylvania, because 5% of its budget comes from federal grants. The school trains about 3,000 students. According to the National Association of Career and Technical Schools, these students can earn $28 an hour more than workers with only a high school diploma.

McGlade: There is going to be more and more of those skilled jobs that are available that are going to be well-paying and provide a sustaining career for years and years to come.

Gary: A career path that McGlade estimates will need ten million more skilled workers over the next decade. But if funding continues to be cut from schools that provide skilled training, there could be lots of unfilled jobs and even more unemployed people.

Gary Hamilton, Channel One News.


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