This Isn’t Your Daddy’s Vo Tech – Part 2

Game Comp at Skills NLSC17
Game designers competing at SkillsUSA’s National Competition. This didn’t exist when I was growing up. Today, many programs can be found, even in high school.

Welcome or welcome back. In Part 1, I noted that the percentage of “middle jobs”, those requiring some college but not a 4-yr degree, have risen dramatically as the workforce has grown. In 1973, there were about 11 million of these jobs in the US. Now, it is estimated that there are over 41 million. The need has almost quadroupled in the past 45 years! These are jobs like: nursing assistant, paralegal aide, construction manager, and computer engineer. (See “Pathways to Prosperity”; all data cited in this post was provided to the reference document by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce)

Although I want to talk about the CTE experience here, I also want to whet your appatite. Want to know what you earn in  STEM fields? Check out an article I wrote long ago called ” 3 Surprising, Fast-Growing, High-Wage STEM Careers “.

Today, the experience is different as well, and in exciting ways. Many if not most courses can be taken online. Ivy Tech is a statewide two year post-secondary institution in Indiana. More than 20 associate degree programs are offered in high-demand, high-paying fields! If you want to know the salary prospects for their programs, go to their “Programs Wheel” which kept me busy for some time (Scroll down a little when you get to the page – I am easily amused!).

I have done much of my life’s work with NASA and with K12. Most NASA employees are not 4 year degree holders! K12 has public, online high schools in many states called “Destinations Career Acadamies” . These schools provide COMPLETE programs that include SkillsUSA chapters, employment and leadership skills training, and work-based experience programs. They help students get ahead. Students graduate with more than a diploma, they graduate with knowledge, skills, and even certifications that it took many people like me years to learn! If you are in Idaho, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah or Ohio, you should check these out and see what is possible in today’s world!

All in all, the world of today is vastly different than when I grew up. We have Starbucks, HD TV, and the New England Patriots are actually pretty good now! Also, think about the jobs of today – most didn’t exist 20 – 30 years ago! These efforts by Ivy Tech, K12, and many other secondary and post-secondary institutions are bold in size and scope, but will be common in the future. Yes, this isn’t the old Vo Tech when you get on a bus and learn about cosmetics (which you can now do online!). It is the new, practical norm in education, where learning about 3D printing and agribusiness are exciting gateways to a prosperous future. To see how excited, see the 16,000 people, 6,000 of the students, in the video below of the opening ceremonies of the SkillsUSA 2016 National Competition. As Howard Hughes used to famously say when he saw a great idea “(It’s) the way of the future.” 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” 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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