Vocational education is making a comeback

The future is bright as traditional academic institutions and vocational schools are reinventing how students learn

vocational-educationWhen you think about vocational education, you might conjure up a picture of a mechanic or a carpenter. Historically, vocational education, rooted in learning a particular skill set, was positioned in direct contrast with traditional higher-education learning, based primarily on academic theory.

Vocational education often was deemed a second-tier educational choice for those who could not go to college. Today, however, vocational education is making a comeback.

In today’s information economy, demand for specialized, technical skills has become a necessity. With a blurring of lines between skills-based and theory-based education, it’s worth exploring the impact of vocational training on the future of education.

The number of niche providers of vocational training is on the rise, particularly in areas where specialized skills are required for job advancement. Schools have redesigned programs to be shorter-term and focused exclusively on skill-building. For example, Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy offers marketing bootcamps for students, and General Assembly offers product management and web development immersion courses.

We have also seen this demand for specialized skills in the computer coding market. Coding has been hailed as the untapped opportunity in the U.S. job market, with computer programming jobs growing at two times the national average of other job growth. However, less than 2 percent college graduates leave with computer science degrees. In response, vocational schools like the New York Code and Design Academy have been popping up across the country to teach students the computer skills they need to excel in as little as two months.

(Next page: Three ways to adopt vocational education into your curriculum)

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