Gone are the days when simply having a higher education is enough to maintain a lifelong career. It’s become increasingly important to have a quality education to ensure you have the skills and knowledge necessary for a successful career. This goes equally for traditional four-year college degrees and those certifications and skills gained through a trade school education. Having a degree is great, but it may be all for naught when it lacks the skills necessary to provide a person with what they need to enter the workforce.
The trouble with traditional higher education is that only 16% of college graduates feel that their education prepared them well for their potential careers. This is a staggeringly small number. Mostly, graduates feel that they received more personal enrichment versus being ready for the workforce.
In general, personal enrichment and the learning of specific skills are considered of nearly equal importance across the board. While that varies depending on the educational level of the person answering the question and their political leanings, it appears pretty even to the importance of higher traditional education.
Trade School Education
However, a trade school education is an entirely different situation. A trade school education teaches the skills necessary for a specific trade. Rather than a universal education, it is a specific education. Trade schools can also offer universal learning, but the primary purpose is to prepare students for a trade. Skilled trades programs are becoming more necessary and competitive, especially as the demand for skilled trades jobs grows. Trade schools allow the opportunity for hands-on learning in a way that a typical higher education does not, and this hands-on training best prepares students for their fields.
Vocational schools allow students to work in an active field that often doesn’t require them to sit behind a desk all day. Many traditional higher education graduates feel they weren’t prepared thoroughly for the workforce. With a vocational education, this won’t be as much of a concern, as a quality trade school teaches skills for a specific trade. You may initially think of careers such as carpentry or electrical work – which are important vocations. However, vocational schooling encompasses many different career options. Options like aviation maintenance, phlebotomy, and wind turbine installation are considered a trade career division.
Quality vs. Quantity
While anyone can go out and get an advanced degree or certificate through a school that is primarily more concerned about high enrollment versus providing a quality experience, those who achieve quality are more likely to be successful.
One of the major qualities of a trade school program is that it often lasts for much less time than a traditional college degree. In the past, a traditional college education was acquired in four years. However, the “super senior” is becoming more common. Many find it difficult to complete a conventional college degree in four years. While many trade programs can be completed within two years, allowing that person to enter the workforce much quicker and with the skills necessary to perform their job.
Another major benefit to a trade school versus a traditional four-year degree is the stability of the trades. While many jobs can be automated, the needs of many trades must be filled by real workers who have to fill a real-time need to perform a task. This means there will always be a necessity for these careers because they cannot be automated. Also, wages are higher for many trade careers (because of the demand), leading to a happier and more productive workforce.
Vocational school is often a much more affordable option. A significant number of those who begin college do not complete their degrees within six years. Additionally, the dropout rate is growing, too. Due to the longer graduation times, student debt is steadily increasing, making traditional education a much more expensive option.
Trade careers are much more reliable during economic instability than typical white-collar jobs. Boilermakers and HVAC technicians are much more necessary than many auxiliary white-collar jobs, even during a recession. The demand will nearly always be higher for these types of careers.
The Importance of a Skilled Workforce
None of this is to disparage choosing a college education; education matters. However, it’s important to value vocational schools equally. With higher demand, shorter lengths of schooling, quick turnaround into a career, and high levels of stability, trades are quickly becoming a more viable option for those deciding how to enter the workforce fully. Trades can also include additional and advanced training for lifelong learning and advancement opportunities. Education is of great value, and the quality of vocational education cannot be discounted. If you’re looking for a career change or ready to enter the workforce, consider trade, contribute to the greater world, and achieve a fulfilling life.
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