Friday, February 11, 2011

When Should Technical Education Begin?

Do schools provide students sufficient opportunity to pursue technical or career education at an early enough age?

Robert Schwartz, dean of the graduate school of education at Harvard University, is an advocate for technical education for young students. In a recently published report featured last week by eSchool News, Schwartz argued the need for schools to offer more career-driven alternatives to four-year college education.

According to Schwartz, school systems in the United States utilize a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education and push all students down a path toward a four-year college degree when, honestly, some students would be more interested and successful in a technical or career education. Schwartz argues that if better opportunities existed in school systems for students to begin career or technical training earlier, many students could find a path to career success. Instead, many students fall by the wayside, graduate from high school without career-ready skills, or drop out of college because it wasn’t the right thing for them.

Critics of Schwartz’s recommendations say that students who focus on technical education in high school limit their future options for education.

Many of the schools that utilize LabSim training are vocational high schools that offer IT certification training to students as early as the freshman year. Using LabSim, students frequently begin with A+ training and learn the fundamentals of computer maintenance and networking; as they continue IT training through high school, they go on to Network+ and sometimes Security+ or Microsoft training. In fact, many of these students graduate high school with several industry certifications in hand—not to mention a wealth of IT skills developed through hands-on experience. Some students go on to community colleges for further IT education, while others begin an IT career straight out of high school.

Do the students in your school have sufficient opportunities to pursue the education that best fits their career goals? Where is improvement still needed?

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