According to a new Harvard study, American students lack vocational skills that would help them in obtaining jobs that do not require a college degree. Inspired by the European educational system, the study contends that students should begin planning their future career path as early as their middle-school years. If the students determine that they are no planning to pursue a 4-year college degree, then they should begin vocational training, perhaps even earlier.
For those who may question the proposition of pushing kids into vocational programs for fear of their being held to lesser expectations, the authors offer another perspective. Is it no more inappropriate to push difficult college-preparatory courses on students who have absolutely no intention of pursuing a college career? Regardless, the authors feel that students should have the option of changing their educational and career paths at their own discretion.
Robert Schwartz, one of the study’s co-authors was previously a champion of the “college for all” approach to education.
According to higher education policy analyst Sandy Baum, in a world where plumbers are needed, we shouldn’t “be nervous about directing people in that route.” The idea, in his mind, should be to enhance and create opportunities and options for everyone. Baum added, “What we’d like is a system where people of all backgrounds could choose to be plumbers or philosophers.” Baum’s contention is that the options should be available.
The study, "Pathways to Prosperity," states that the current system of education is not adequately preparing students for the real world, said project director William C. Symonds, The Harvard Crimson reported.
"The 'one-size-fits-all' model just doesn't work for everybody," Symonds said. "There's a variety of pathways to success."
Spearheaded by Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor Robert B. Schwartz, the report found that "many young adults lack the skills and work ethic needed for many jobs that pay a middle-class wage" and noted that the teen employment rate is 28.6 percent, the lowest it has been since the Great Depression.
Harvard Study Questions Lack of Vocational Education
Pathways to Prosperity Seeks to Redefine American Education System
Harvard report says students need to be better prepared for college