Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vocational Education In/For Wisconsin

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel should be thanked for its publication of Mr. Buckley Brinkman's column ("Shortage requires unified effort"; Jan. 1. 2012; Page-4J) supporting vocational education and the self-direction (Or, guiding) of our youths towards trade-and-vocational education and careers.

It would have been much better to have printed it on Page-1J and "above the fold" as the editors did for the platitudes and "glittering generalities" they inflicted on its readers, from "professional educators" and other self-serving politicians, some few weeks ago.

Yet, I think that Mr. Brinkman too conservative as to specific recommendations for the good of our youth and our economy. Below you will find a partial list (I invite additions or alternatives) towards the above cited goal.

1. The selection of vocational school board members is: Archaic and does not represent the many and accelerating changes in our economic world as "quotas" are set for persons of certain positions; And, is most undemocratic as as the People do not select those members from the best qualified candidates (Who, in a direct election, could tout such factors as work experience, prior vocational education, union membership, industrial-executive experience and like factors). Therefore, I suggest that vocational board members be directly elected by the citizens who pay for those schools.
2. As Mr. Brinkman mentioned student loan debt, I suggest that student loans for our many vocational schools be: Limited to those students in GED/HSEHS ED and purely vocational/professional programs (eg Fire fighting, Nursing, "Body Shop"; Plumbing); And, excluding those (eg Liberal Arts, ESL) for which the onus of payment should be on the student and not the tax payer---Especially in the light of loan defaults on such "non-economic" loans).
To maximize returns on the investment in vocational education all "Affirmative Action" programs or any "quotas" must be eliminated.
Entry must be for the best qualified applicants as based on "cultural fair" educational (Reading and mathematics skills) and job-related skills as might be obtained from natural ability, out-of-school-learning and tested by such means as are familiar to guidance and vocational-rehabilitation counselors.
4. It would be best if we were not wasting tax moneys on such programs that over-produce technical school graduates for whom there is only a limited (Or, nonexistent) demand. Therefore one State agency must ask other governmental units, unions, professional and industrial organizations (eg Auto Body Shop owners) Etc. to submit (eg Once every two years) their data and conclusions as to the numbers and needs for trained workers over the following ten years AND their recommendations as to the types of training & retraining (Do not forget Mr. Brinkman's comments as to the changing nature of our technology) needed to meet those goals.
Those who do not wish to cooperate should be "reminded" that they will be cut out of relevant, job filling-and-producing, private-sector-union-building and profit-making decisions-and-actions.
The data collected and processed must result in decisions as to which programs are to be established or expanded or suspended or cut-back or eliminated.
5. The regional differences in such results must not be ignored.
6. The unions and business interests cited above should be "solicited" to underwrite
(eg An up-to-date Body Shop training center)---Especially where there is a considerable demand for some particular cluster of training OR retraining skills.
7. In exchange for all of the above efforts and expenditures by business and union interests, we should change our State's laws (And Constitution) to allow, as necessary, binding (NOT subject to bankruptcy proceedings, for which some "waiver" might be necessary from the Congress) "Apprenticeship Contracts" (aka Indentures) to "bind" young workers to specific employers for set periods-of-time, performance standards, pay rates and other such matters. [There may be a body of well tested and applicable law and models still in place in Germany upon which Wisconsin-specific laws could be crafted.]
8. All appropriate high school staff must be retrained as to counseling students on the opportunities offered by vocational training and careers----And, evaluated as to their performance in that area. State Superintendent of Schools "Tony" Evers should also be evaluated, by editors and the People, as to his performance in this area.

I look for relevant, creative and true action by Governor Walker, the Legislature and other State agencies.

1 comment:

James Green said...

The plumbing training vocation is a great way of getting the necessary skills to get your feet on the employment ladder! I have been looking at ways of getting into the trade for a few years and I think that I have definitely made some progress with an apprenticeship.