5 Reasons a vocational school might be the best post-grad option for your child
By Lauren Strait
It’s graduation season, and the standard advice usually given to high school graduates is this: go to college.
Although it’s not a bad idea to pursue a four-year degree, it’s certainly not the only option in today’s world.
“We live in a knowledge economy with an ever-growing need for skilled workers,” said Darrin Brust, Campus President, Universal Technical Institute (UTI). “Due to the extreme complexity of the digital systems and technology that power today’s vehicles, the skills a technician requires training beyond high school, but not a traditional four-year degree.”
Trade schools, also referred to as vocational or technical schools, present educational opportunities to learn skills related to specific interest. This environment offers hands-on learning, industry professionals teaching courses, and sometimes built-in internships and/or apprenticeships. This type of schooling builds on the interests and strengths of each individual and can often be a more practical and financially viable educational alternative.
Here are five reasons to consider a trade or vocational school.
1. Skill-Specific Programs
If you have already made up your mind about what it is that interests you, trade schools dive right into teaching the skills needed, making it more efficient use of your money.
“I was enrolled at a four-year college in Wisconsin as an undeclared student,” said Ryan Mader, current UTI student. “I knew [college] wasn’t for me, as I wanted to do something with cars. I looked into programs involving collision repair and found UTI. I put in an inquiry and got a call the next day. They set up an interview with my parents and determined the best fit would be UTI in Houston.”
Skill-specific programs don’t stop with vehicles. Other skill-specific trade schools offer training in:
- Automotive Technology
- Building Technology
- Combination Welding
- Industrial Maintenance
- Commercial Truck Driving
- Construction Trades
- Diesel and Heavy Equipment Repair Technology
- Electrical Technology
- Heavy Equipment Operations
- Machinist Technology
- Motorcycle and Power Equipment Technology
- Refrigeration/AC Technology
- Industrial Solar Technology
- So Many More
If you are unsure about what you want to study, research types of schools and skills training programs out there. Consider going on informational interviews or even make calls to professionals who are in the industry or have gone through the same program to see if it’s a right fit for you. It’s crucial to cultivate a strong knowledge about the type of work you’re going into before you start.
2. Hands-On Training
The key to a successful vocational technical school experience is the critical hands-on learning. Unlike college, where you spend time and money taking courses that don’t solely relate to your career, the knowledge and training you receive in a trade school is directly related to what you will need to know in your job.
“In my area, we focus on vehicle structural repairs, body work, painting, blending, estimating, and a few mechanical things,” Mader said. “We aren’t reading about this type of work, we are physically working on vehicles right in the ‘classroom’ from day one. If there are parts that are damaged, we can replace them or take them out.”
In addition to hands-on course work, you will work with skilled instructors, learning on the same equipment and situations you may encounter in the field.
“All of these factors give you a competitive advantage as you enter the workforce, allowing you to have the knowledge and understanding of the equipment you will be using in the field, and teaching you how to operate this equipment both safely and effectively,” Brust offered.
Trade schools are designed to help you get the career you want. This means offering flexible class schedules to allow you to continue working as you jump-start your dream career.
“When I started UTI, they offered me a job at the admissions desk in the mornings, and I attend class in the afternoon and evenings,” Mader explained. “I knew I would have to work while going to school since I would be away from home, and I am grateful for the flexibility that UTI offers.”
4. Industry Connections
Because of the way programs are structured in trade schools, they present you with numerous opportunities for professional networking.
“At UTI, there is an employment department where they teach you how to put a resume together, expose you to several career fairs on campus, and help you network with industry leaders in the area you want to be in,” said Mader. “For me, I want to go back to Wisconsin upon my graduation in May, and the employment department has helped me connect with collision repair companies in my hometown to help me land a job immediately after graduation.”
5. Faster Employment Post Graduation
“Since the recession in 2008, getting hired post-graduation has proven to be more difficult for this new generation of college graduates,” Brust said. “Through our employment services department on campus, we begin working with our students the moment they enter our program to help develop interview skills and introduce them to industry employers. The best advice I have for students is no matter what trade school they attend, be sure the school offers career-focused training with competency-based credentials to make you more appealing to potential employers post-graduation. Here at UTI, the demand for technicians is very high, due to the advanced technology of vehicles, more cars on the road today, and Boomers retiring.”
At the end of the day, we want our children to be successful and happy. A trade school can deliver both of these goals and also fill jobs that cannot really be outsourced from any regular person on the street.
“Breaking down the stereotypes with educators, school counselors, and those people who help students make a decision on their future is what I encourage for this generation of students,” said Brust.
When we notice special talents inside our children, we need to encourage them to act on those talents, especially if the kids are conflicted with what they want to do post high school graduation. Technical jobs and schools provide great careers, and there is probably a school with specialized training that is out there for them.