|This woman did not go to welding school|
I've watched the benefits of the school throughout my career. The CTE students are more focused, more goal-oriented, and best of all, have a clear understanding of the relationship between making an effort and getting a result. Studies like the one recently covered by Matt Barnum for Chalkbeat provide zero surprises for those of us for whom CTE is old hat-- the students are more likely to graduate, do better in school generally. They can strain the disciplinary boundaries some times, which is understandable-- it has to be jarring when one minute you are outdoors, operating a piece of heavy equipment and an hour later you're sitting in a desk, required to ask permission to get up and sharpen a pencil.
The benefits are so obvious that it hadn't really occurred to me that many school districts had no such facility.
But hey-- what could give CTE a bigger boost than an endorsement from Ivanka Trump.
Skill-based education is crucial to putting more Americans on a path to promising careers – and filling the jobs of the future, as well as those that are vacant today. Yet for too long, we have failed to recognize the importance of practical, skill-based learning.
On the one hand, sure. On the other hand, this headline....
Skill-based education is crucial to putting more Americans on a path to promising careers.
Because, yeah, Ivanka spent a lot of hours in school learning useful skills so that she could find a decent job. Just like her father.
This is the part where irony is just crushed to death; a woman whose profession is "Heiress" or possibly "Assistant Grifter" wants to extoll the virtues of good, honest, useful skills. She is not wrong about the value of these skills; I'm just not convinced she's the one to deliver the message.
Ms. Trump cites the large number of unfilled jobs as support for her point, and here she is also not wrong-- but like many folks who throw the stat around, she's gliding past an important part of the problem, a part that is captured in he subheading for this CNN/Money article last fall noting the record number of job openings:
American employers are trying to hire, but they can't find the right workers for the right price.
The number was 6.2 million job openings, with 1.2 million in healthcare and education. But let's look at that last prepositional phrase-- "for the right price." Right price for whom? Are we talking about the employers want to pay, or the amount that it will take to make the job attractive enough?
Once again, folks are choosing to remember how the free market works only when it suits them. The true value/price of a commodity is what it takes to get that commodity. Or as I've often said, just because you can't buy a Porsche for $1.95, that doesn't mean there's a car shortage. If you can't buy labor for $8.00 and hour, the invisible hand demands that you offer $9.00 or $12.00 or $20.00 or whatever it takes to get someone to sell you the labor that you want to buy.
In other words, "the right price" is not what you want to pay-- it's what the market dictates that you have to pay.
As when we discuss getting US works to compete with workers in China or India, I'm left with the impression that we're not really talking about job skills-- we're talking about the "skill" of being willing to work for below-market wages. This is not a "skill" that can, or should, be taught in a CTE program. My students work damned hard to master their crafts, and if employers want the benefit of those skills, they should be willing to fork over a damned good wage to those students. If you want to promote American workers with American skills, then offer to pay them instead of having your merchandise made for cheap in China; offering well-paying jobs would be far more powerful than offering weak op-ed essays.
Talking about training and skills and job preparation and career readiness is all meaningless if the actual problem is that corporate leaders really want to be able to get adequate skills for sub-adequate pay. Corporations could solve all of their workforce problems by offering jobs that paid really well. If calling for more CTE and career training is really just code for "we want our labor force to be happy being underpaid," then they (and the President's daughter) are just wasting everyone's time.