A job training program is a model for other schools across the nation.
The program shows students how to perform the tasks needed for 21st century jobs and is in Essex County New Jersey. In one rom, students work with a robotic arm, directing it to lift one pastic backet and dump the contents into another. A few miles from that location, students layer recycled material in tiers for use in green rooftops that can harness energy.
In another classroom. students in a digital media course finish producing the videos they scripted, filmed, and edited. When they graduate from the Essex County Vocational Technical Schools, they will have every skill they can expect to use in a wide variety of careers, including engineering and digital production.
Some students will graduate high school with a professional license along with the traditional diploma. “There’s a lot of misconception that vocational education is for students who want a different route because they won’t graduate,” said Dicxiana Carbonell, the school system’s supervisor of curriculum and instruction. “What our students learn in the academic areas, they can apply to real-life projects. They see how the skills transfer.”
Across the country, educators increasingly look to vocational programs to better prepare students for the 21st-century workforce. Many educators – and business
leaders – believe career programs engage students in school and show them how the material they learn in the classroom can be relevant in their future professions.
In Buffalo – which offers some career education, though mostly a few classes that count as electives, rather than comprehensive programs aligned to core subject areas – graduation rates stubbornly hover around 50 percent.
At Essex County Vocation Technical Schools in New Jersey, 96 percent of students graduate from high school, many also earning a professional license. About 88 percent of students go on to attend a two- or four-year college. About eight percent go straight from high school graduation to a job.