Today’s career classes are preparing students for the workforce in a high tech world.
The old-fashioned vocational education high school classes of yesteryear are long gone, replaced now by a growing variety of career-training classes that would have been unlikely just a few years ago.
The more than 65 local high schools are still developing a picture of non-traditional classes created or modified in recent years in response to America’s growing chasm of unfilled jobs, many not requiring traditional four-year college degrees.
From repairing a $150,000, piano-sized machine in Grant County High School to running a school bank branch in Mason to curing horses and other animals on a Butler County school farm, more local high schools are offering career education aimed at filling workforce gaps.
“The career education movement is alive and well today because more jobs are going unfilled that require technical training,” said Samuel Stringfield, director of the School of Education in the University of Cincinnati’s College of Education.
Stringfield, who has held positions in the American Educational Research Association and the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, said, “About 31-35 percent of Americans graduate from some type of college these days.
“But we need to better prepare the other 65-70 percent (for jobs earning a middle-class living) in the 21st century.”
Count Dry Ridge teen Andrew Engle in that group.
The 17-year-old senior at Grant County High School spends a good part of his school day working on Northern Kentucky’s only high school-based “mechatronics” machine, its moving parts’ complexity matched only by its unreliability.
That’s on purpose. The machine can be programmed to break down in a variety of fashions, forcing electrical technology students such as Andrew to get it back to running condition.
“I learn better when it’s hands-on learning, and it makes me a better critical thinker,” said Andrew.
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