Indeed, "Voc Ed" was laid to rest years ago, happily replaced by "Career Technical Education" (CTE), as schools and industry worked together to provide workers for the jobs of tomorrow. More than a rebranding campaign, CTE is a complete rethinking and retooling of how we bring work skills to students.
This is instinctively true even for those shop classes of old. We all know that a traditional "grease monkey" from 50 years ago needed to know how to turn a wrench and that this alone could provide him a fair standard of living throughout his lifetime.
We also know that when we take our automobile into the shop today, this won't cut it on our $60,000 SUV.
We expect -- we demand -- the mechanic to be well-versed in computer diagnostics, technical theory, research and problem-solving, and all topped off with a healthy dose of customer service and professionalism.
If this is true for today's shop classes (which, by the way, are still well-represented at ROC), imagine how much more true it is for the new crop of CTE classes also offered at ROC.
High school students are learning complex theory from 800+ page medical textbooks, performing advanced operations using modern robotics technology, and coding computers and installing networks that weren't even thought of back in the heyday of "Voc Ed". And this is happening every day in 30+ programs on the ROC campus.
CTE demands much from today's student.
Whether continuing their after-high school learning at the jobsite or at university, CTE gives young students exposure to industry standards and trends, current technology, employer expectations, and the cognitive and academic rigor that will be required of them regardless of their chosen career path.
As it turns out, those "jobs of tomorrow"? They are here today.
All students can benefit from CTE.
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by Michael Russo, ROC Instructor and local businessman
Opinions expressed are those of the article's author.