Porcelli: The Other Side of Education (12/15)

CTE Shop Class: Now It’s High-Tech

Progress in trade education…I hope

By Mike Porcelli

For most of my life, I’ve participated in trade education from every possible angle. I’ve served on high school and college trade ed advisory boards and lobbied elected officials to increase CTE programs as they were continually diminished.

Four years ago, I was inspired by an article from a high school classmate about how college was a waste for many of those attending. He got me thinking about why the programs offered in our high school, those I had promoted for decades, were no longer available to most students.

Around the same time, I discovered an article by Michael Bloomberg and Jamie Dimon on why vocational education is crucial to the economy, but schools were no longer teaching those skills.

That experience led me into researching the subject more deeply and advocating more strongly for the restoration of CTE programs on radio and TV, as well as in these pages. I also began more actively working with DOE schools and workforce organizations to expand CTE as much as possible. It has been frustrating to see virtually no increase in training programs over that time…until now.

Recently, I’ve been pleased that DOE is beginning to see the light. Three months ago, at a news conference with Mayor Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks, a partnership was announced between DOE, New York Jobs Ceo Council and CareerWise New York to create job training for high school students who were not heading directly into the college-debt-mill.

Their modern apprenticeships offer students opportunities in growing NYC industries and practical learning experience in addition to their classroom instruction.

CareerWise New York is an employer-led, student-focused collaboration, with a mission to ensure young people have access to job opportunities and employers get the talent they need. The program is based on the Swiss system, widely regarded as the world standard in linking apprenticeships, education and industry. 

Since Bloomberg and Dimon wrote about the need for trade education years ago, Bloomberg L.P. and J. P. Morgan Chase have contributed millions into education and training programs, locally and nationwide.

At the September news conference, along with other businesses, they pledged even more money to fund the CareerWise partnership.

The mayor, chancellor and every other sponsor are to be commended for establishing this program to benefit students and industry together.

To learn more: https://working.nyc.gov/?p=1991 & https://www.careerwisenewyork.org/en/ 

As commendable as this program is, it appears to suffer from the same problem many CTE schools have, which is an implicit bias regarding “vocational education programs.” The career fields in this program do not appear to include any of the “hands-on trades.”

The construction and mechanical trades are somehow not included when most people advocate for CTE education. They prefer “clean” CTE programs, at the expense of training mechanics, carpenters, plumbers and the other highly skilled people who keep the world running.

Industrial bias must end. Begin by opening this program to all trades, especially those in shortest supply. Workforce skills must match demand.

Academic & Trade Education are Two Sides of a Coin. This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.

Mike Porcelli: life-long mechanic, adjunct professor, and host of Autolab Radio, is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-porcelli-master-mechanic-allasecerts/ 

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