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Thursday, August 21, 2008
Expand Trade and Vocational Education
By Patrick Walsh @ 12:16 AM :: 3414 Views

by Patrick M. Walsh

We are at a crossroads of employment training here in our Hawai`i Public Schools. Our direction must follow more career technical training (vocational training) and secure the jobs that are coming online for our children.

It is a fact that demand is up for skilled workers in fields such as aviation mechanics, computer technology, electronics, global positioning, bio-technology and trades ranging from culinary arts to construction.

The old approach to high school training wood shop, metal shop, auto body ignores the challenges and opportunities our new economy is offering. We have to keep up with the way we educate our future skilled workers.

High school could offer crime forensics, composite-plastic fuselage design, robotics, nanotechnology, radiological diagnostics, 3-D animation and modern building maintenance.

For example –Solar water, PV lights and washroom automated water sensors need software programming. Employers know that to be competitive, our educational system needs to meet the needs of the community with more application to the workplace.

It is widely accepted that vocational training is critical for job creation in the manufacturing sector. Skills introduced in school are lifelong tools for the ever increasing need for rapid redevelopment and retraining required of local workers competing in the global workforce. For example Hawaii is fast becoming the world premier location for Bio technology. It is a fact that most bio-tech jobs require no four-year degree But instead skills that could be taught in high school.

It is no longer the case that getting a four-year college education guarantees better employment opportunities. Our graduates today need to have a more direct education that satisfies the vision of a career in an industry found here- in their own back yard. It is time for our public school system to get serious about working with the vocation needs of our students.

According to the Department of Education Budget FMS 385 Report as of 03-31-08 less than 10% of the $4.5 million dollars approved by the 2007/2008 Hawai`i State Legislature was used for the School to Work Transition Centers (SWTC). In short motivated students need to be engaged in technical education programs in high schools.

Teaching and training in partnership with the workplace makes for a subject content that has more relevance and is conducted in full partnership with all stakeholders involved. I call for a renewal of collaboration among students, educators, industries, and businesses employers.

I propose that the Hawai`i Board of Education make the development of a public high school career training partnership more accessible to all stakeholders. For example we could redesign our public high school career technical education with specific entry level positions in mind. Teaching and training in partnership with the workplace makes for a subject content which has more relevance and is conducted in full partnership with all stakeholders involved.

Patrick M. Walsh is a reform candidate for Hawai`i Board of Education, Second School Board District Hawai`i Maui, Kaua`i, Moloka`i Lana`i. More info:


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