Vo-Tech shifts to Career-Tech

"Not going to college" is no longer an option for vo-tech students. Schools' job is now to train students for further education.

Once upon a time, vo-tech schools were the place for kids who weren't going to college. No longer. Today, the only jobs worth preparing kids for are ones that require either college or post-high school certificates. New Jersey's Home News Tribune reports on the changes Middlesex County's vo-tech program is going through.

"Now we know that in the workforce two-thirds of the jobs will be needing some sort of post-secondary education — we're talking either college or some kind of technical certificate beyond high school. That's a big statistic," said Karen McCloud-Hjazeh, superintendent of the Vo-Tech schools. "In order to really respond to that, that's where we are now adding in a whole new component for the county vocational school which is the college-prep curriculum. And that's a really new feature of the school. We're leaving behind the concept of: We were the schools for kids who are not going to college.

"We are not going to leave behind youngsters who can't benefit from college prep. But what's new is that we're including youngsters who can benefit from college prep."

The program now focuses on training for careers, not jobs. That means giving students the skills to move into college or other educational opportunities.

"It's really putting a further emphasis on education because the business world requires more skills which require continuing education," said Middlesex County Freeholder John Pulomena, chairman for Committee of Public Health and Education. "Our focus was to address the changing workplace. We want to give our students the opportunity to either go directly into the workplace or continue on and complete their college education.

"It's clear that the jobs we all are migrating toward require a college education."

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