Technical training as important as college

Published 10:05 am Thursday, December 7, 2017

In Wednesday’s edition of the Sun, we published two stories about programs in Clark County focusing technical training — the 1+1 program at the Clark County Area Technology Center and the cosmetology program at College for Technical Education.

Looking back over the past year, we can think of many more stories we have had the opportunity to share involving the community’s focus on preparing for students and young people for college and/or careers.

Wednesday, ATC teacher Henry Carl shared how the 1+1 program in partnership with Bluegrass Community and Technical College is able to help students land good-paying jobs right out of high school. He teaches the integrated engineering career pathway at ATC, which focuses on troubleshooting and repairing problems with mechanical and electronic devices, particularly in an industrial setting. Students are able to earn an associates degree and hands-on skills while still in high school.

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At CTE, people of varying ages from across the region are trained on theory and practical skills involving cosmetology — from hair care to makeup and skin care. These classes involve detailed study of anatomy, skin, chemical processes that take place when dying hair and more. All this prepares students to take a state exam before working as apprentices and passing a master cosmetologist certification.

We’ve also shared about programs in partnerships with Leggett and Platt, where ATC students are able to work at the local manufacturing company and gain skills while still in high school.

Last week, we shared a story from Smoke Signals editor Rebecca Eaves about two GRC seniors and ATC students who are using the skills they learned in the automotive repair program at ATC to land co-op jobs working at area car dealerships as mechanics.

Adecco staffing agency partners with the Kentucky Department of Education to offer Youth Employment Solutions (YES), a program that provides work-based learning and track placement for high schools students.

These are just a few examples of how industry and education are working together to improve college and career readiness in our community.

There was once a time when every student was told college is the only logical next step after high school if you want to be successful.

However, college is not right or what is best for every graduating senior. More importantly, it is not the only viable path to success.

While many students will need to earn a two- or four-year degree or even move on to earn graduate or doctorate degrees, in order to fulfill their career needs, others can find fulfillment, happiness, stability and, yes, success with landing a job right out of high school.

Industrial and manufacturing jobs are some of the best-paying in communities like ours. As Carl explained, his students are able to graduate high school making $13 an hour while working toward a degree at BCTC that can earn them $20 an hour in just two years.

These programs prove there is a much-needed place for technical and vocational training in high school and after.

It is encouraging to see that Clark County seems to be well above the curve when it comes to showing students that there are many viable options for successful careers after high school.