This Isn’t Your Daddy’s Vo Tech! – Part 1

Sinage at the Idaho Technical Career Academy (ITCA) being placed onto their building campus. The name of the school along with the logo, two intersecting places, one red and the other blue, adorn the building.
Idaho Technical Career Academy (ITCA) has worked to meet the skills gap need. For 4 years it has served as Idaho’s first public, virtual, online career academy. 

Would you agree that much has changed in 30 years? Put another way, what is the same today as it was in 1987? That was the year that Michael Jackson was “Bad”, and Rick Astley was “Never Gonna Give You Up”. High school students were either “college prep” or “vo-tech”. Being a vo-tech student didn’t have a great vibe. Usually it meant you weren’t college material and you needed to learn how to repair cars, electrically wire a room or style hair.

The biggest differance between vo-teck of the 1980s and career technical education (CTE) of today is about workforce need for “middle jobs”. According to “Pathways to Prosperity”, 30 percent of jobs by 2018 will require some college or an associates degree. This is almost the same percentage of jobs that require a bachelors degree or better (See “Pathways to Prosperity” – Figure 4, P. 7; all data cited in this post was provided to the reference document by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce).

In the same document, a different analysis (Figure 1 if you like figures) shows that in 1973, 12% of the workforce of 91 million people fell into the “some or no college” category. By 2007, that number had increased to 27%! A staggering increase when you consider that the 2007 workforce had 154 million people – an over 60% increase! In other words, to fulfill the needs of todays workforce, many more students will need some college, and not a four year degree, and that is the biggest difference between now and 30 or so years ago! Like it or not, CTE IS today’s college prep program!

In an earlier post, I quoted Mike Rowe (paraphrased here) that the U.S. has 6 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. – 3 out of 4 do not require a 4-year college degree! Now we know many of the jobs do require some college. But, they do not require the suffocate-you-with-debt type of college experience! They mean spending some time in a community or technical college or a trade schools as options. I would have loved being directed into a culinary arts program, or opportunities to earn IT certifications!

Rather than wax on about the topic, I will post part two in few days. Above is the aerial view – the big footprint. In my next post I will talk more about how the experience is different for students and families today, and not just different – better! Let’s get to work!

Comments, questions and opportunities are always welcome. My hope is to START conversations – not appear as an authority on everything I write about. Hopefully I will act as a “provocateur” or “brat” and inspire you to contribute your thoughts and feelings!



Published by learningcoachk

Former teacher, coach, NASA consultant, instructional designer and CTE and STEM product /program leader here to join you in a journey through learning and education. Here to help enrich your life. Let's journey together. At present, I work for a wonderful company,, and have for almost 12 years. That said, it is important for you to know that anything posted here is NOT the position of K12 as a company, and solely my own musings.

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