The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


May 5, 2014

Vocational education

Attitudes changing toward tech

— Vocational education is alive and well in southern West Virginia.

That is good news for any number of people — those of high school age and adults alike — who know college is not for them.

Fayette Institute of Technology (FIT) and Raleigh’s Academy of Careers and Technology (ACT), featured on Monday’s front page, are shining examples of the opportunities available to provide an education that can set a student up for a lifelong career.

In the past, some may have sneered at the thought of a technical school education; perhaps the connotation was that those who went there weren’t cut out for academics.

But those perceived attitudes are changing, according to FIT Principal Barry Crist.

All of the programs at FIT are filled to capacity for the next school year and there are some 80 high school students on a waiting list for a spot in one of its 18 programs.

The principal attributes that to the diversity and practicality of the programs.

Job placement levels are high as well.

Although students leave school job-ready, if one feels the need to further his education, he is also prepared to go to college and get a degree.

Auto mechanics, electrician, masonry, construction, drafting, computer technology, health technology — these are but a few of the course offerings at technical schools. ACT is preparing to open a cosmetology program.

Any one of these or myriad other programs offered would be an excellent career path.

Quicker and less expensive than four or more years in college, a technical education may just be the ticket to your career dreams.

If there is a downside at this time, it is that technical schools’ space and funding are not keeping pace with the growth.

Perhaps it would behoove educational leaders on all levels to study technical education more closely and try to fix those issues.

We know a shortage in some of these technical skills is coming as baby boomers who hold these jobs retire.

So more tech schools — and more tech grads — to fill that growing demand should be on everyone’s agenda.

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