Don’t forget career schools
Over 50 percent of high school graduates entering college end up dropping out. In addition, 50 percent or more of our students do best in schools of applied learning rather than purely academic schools. Somewhere over the years, applied learning, often called “vocational” learning, came to be associated with the less capable student who was not destined for college.
In some cases, the individuals who got low-paying jobs – or even those who attended college – will eventually attend a community college or a career school to get the skills they need to obtain a better job.Career schools fill a need that is not being addressed by high schools, community colleges or four-year colleges. Career schools do the best job of training adults who did not get the skills in high school and want to move up to better-paying jobs. They also serve a high percentage of minorities, women and immigrants – primarily adults – better than any other institution. The education and training provided by career schools is focused on the skills needed by employers. The time to complete the training and its cost are less than any college program, even the state schools that receive state and federal subsidies.New Hampshire has 104 career schools. In 2010, they educated 40,000 students and generated $54 million in business revenue. More importantly, the programs run by career schools had a retention rate of over 70 percent, a completion rate of over 80 percent and a job placement rate that exceeded 75 percent. There is not a community college or four-year college in the state that can claim this performance.If career schools were not producing quality graduates that employers want to hire, they would go out of business. How many community or state colleges have gone out of business for poor performance?Over the next 10 years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 20 percent of the jobs created will require a four-year college degree. There will be a severe shortage of individuals with technical skills if we do not address this mismatch. To do the massive retraining job that is required to get our current worker skills up to date will require the participation and engagement of all levels of education, especially career schools and colleges.
Peter T. Koch is executive director of the New Hampshire Council for Professional Education.