What Would USVET Look Like?
Each school district can build relationships with local business partners and major employers. Seek out leaders in energy, healthcare, biotech, engineering, construction and other in-demand fields. Then administrators can analyze their own facilities and begin specializing their schools. Which high school would be best suited for the university-bound students? Which would be better for specific vocational training? Some schools will need modifications. Which have the space? Could an older facility, which may need upgrading anyway, be optimized for vocational purposes?
How can vocational students participate in these changes? Have students get their hands dirty building their own new training center.
Businesses should be enthusiastic to participate. Being a leader in education will be wonderful marketing. With whom will you choose to do business? The group building strong, independent young adults or the one that does not? Employers should be bidding high to be part of the vocational system.
Part of vocational education will take place off-site. Half of the students can work in the field Monday and Tuesday with the other half in the field Thursday and Friday. Wednesday can be a time for both halves to join and exchange notes.
Some school functions can become student-run. Administrators in charge of transportation, maintenance, food, sports and marketing can step back to be mentors, allowing students to learn how to operate a complex school system. The next generation of educators will have a head start.
Will vocational education become a central part of American Education as it is in Europe? Like everything in a free market system, the consumers will decide. Whether or not a student chooses a vocational path or a university path will depend only a little on test scores. It will be a choice made after consultation with parents, teachers and career counsellors. It will give more options, flexibility and opportunities to students.
Young adults with income, experience and self-esteem can always choose more education. With employer support, going back to school is even easier. Youths without money or skills do not have the option. They must take the job offered and try to scratch out a living. Giving high school students an advantage by offering useful job training opens the world to them.