Right now, the shortage of skilled workers in the US presents a great opportunity for vocational and technical (vo-tech) schools to increase enrollment and contribute even further to student success. Incidentally, this worker shortage comes at a time when automation and other technological advancements have increased in many spaces – from manufacturing to commercial kitchens.
According to research from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, a significant portion of the current workforce doesn’t have the digital skills to keep up with these technological advancements. Because of the unpredictability of the last few years, even manual job tasks had to be reimagined in a way that requires a wider range of digital skills. This puts significant pressure on facilities to upskill their current workers and hire people who are already trained for a modernized work environment. That’s where vo-tech schools come in. Here are some examples of schools and vocational programs that have kept up with the times:
Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education
The Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) is a multidisciplinary manufacturing work-study program. Students attend classes at a local community college two days a week and then work for a local employer part-time (while being paid a competitive wage). In addition to teaching manufacturing best practices like safety and communication, the program covers a wide range of new technology skills for robotics, electricity, mechanics, industrial troubleshooting, and more.
General Motors Technical Learning University
General Motors’ (GM) Technical Learning University aims to improve the technical ability of its skilled trade workers and manufacturing engineers. The program is flexible so students can continue their day jobs while in school. Recent upgrades to the Global Technical Center campus in Warren, Michigan include robot cells to replicate the ones in current GM plants, next-generation flexible sheet metal fabrication technologies, and a 70,000 square-foot-high ceiling clearance area to accommodate plant-like operation exercises.
Creating Coding Careers Apprenticeship Program
Creating Coding Careers (CCC) recruits, hires, and trains students who think a career in tech is unattainable without a college degree. Before they join, students must complete a three-month intensive course to prepare for the Department of Labor-certified apprenticeship program. Apprentices spend a full year learning alongside experienced software engineers working on real projects for real clients. Once the program is complete, the CCC team matches their graduates to companies looking for new engineers.
THINC Academy is a Georgia-based school that specializes in modern, immersive training for industries such as distribution, game design, sports medicine, marketing, fashion merchandising, and more. Depending on their career pathway, students are assigned projects that give them real-world experience. The program is designed for students who want to enter the workforce or college with hands-on training in whichever field they choose.
Universal Technical Institute Robotics and Automation Technology School
Students in the Robotics and Automation Technology program have four campuses to choose from, and take a variety of courses to master how robotics and automation are used in a variety of industries. Graduates go on to become robotics technicians, electromechanical technicians, drafters, mechanical engineering technicians, field service technicians, industrial engineering technicians, and more.
Northcentral Technical College
Northcentral Technical College offers technical diplomas and certificates in fields such as human resource management, retail operations, small business bookkeeping, early childhood education, supply chain assistance, various IT roles, and more. Approximately 95% of graduates find jobs within a year of graduation, and many of the programs are fully virtual so students can attend from anywhere.
Career Pathways Must Start Earlier
These programs are just some of the vo-tech options out there for students. While the list of innovative schools is long, there’s one thing that’s still in short supply: earlier career planning. A recent study by HCM Strategists and EDGE Research found that many people wish they had received more personalized guidance during high school about what route they should take after graduation. Some reported feeling pressured to attend college, as if it was the only option for career success. In the next post, we’ll explore ways educators can help high school students understand which educational options align with their interests and goals.