Teach them to fish...
I am going on record as saying that an optional fifth-year of high school to receive vocational training and certification would go a long way in keeping Maine students in-state to fill technical jobs and contribute to its economy.
As parents, we all want to see our children succeed. Some want their children to follow in their footsteps to a career or join the family business. In other cases, we push them to be doctors or lawyers, teachers and scientists. In any case, the ability to financially support yourself always plays into the equation. Let’s face it, there are very few people who aspire to be broke and learning a trade is almost a guarantee to earn a living.
It will really only work if someone is willing to work at it. Gaining certification opens doors to future opportunity, but we still have to walk through it. Just because someone gains a Certified Nursing Assistant certificate, it does not mean they will automatically get a job, but it does certainly allow someone the opportunity to apply for a job that they are qualified for, though.
Not everyone is going to go to a traditional college and the ones that decide not too, have opportunities to become productive parts of society, gain employment and start families, here in Maine.
I feel that locally MidCoast School of Technology does a fantastic job in preparing high school students to enter the work force directly after graduation. As a father who has a son that attends the school, I have seen firsthand his ability to take what he has learned so far and apply it to real life situations. He is taking introduction to carpentry and has already exhibited a specific set of skills that could translate into a trade that will allow him to earn a living. The fact that he was able to start as a freshman means that by the time he graduates high school he will already have the equivalent amount of time as a four year technical school.
Much like his father, my son gets more from the lessons life teaches him than reading it from a book. Practical application of subjects drives his want to learn. Learning how to read a technical manual will get him closer to what he wants to do then reading Shakespeare and examining why Hamlet may have had an Oedipus complex.
I also think it gives young adults a solid platform to build on. I gained a good, solid base after joining the Army and when I got out I was able to be self-sufficient, gain employment and financially support myself. I didn’t settle for what skills the Army had taught me, I returned to college to gain a degree, but I would have not been able to do that fresh out of high school. It is not for everyone, but it is an option.
I have heard people compare life to a game and in any game – in order to get a big return - you must have money in the bank to bet with. What better way to pad the bank a little then have full-time employment the day after you graduate from high school?