Vocational careers (carpentry, electrical, plumbing, sheet-metal work, pipe-fitting, etc.) will continue to be an important source of well-paid, engaging, and secure work. Obtaining training and certification from trade schools and community colleges is significantly less expensive than attending college/university. Moreover, compared to college/university graduates, trade school graduates typically land jobs faster and are more likely to be employed in their chosen field of study.
Yet obstacles remain. Many people are unaware of the opportunities provided by vocational work. There are also prevailing negative perceptions around the skilled trades (i.e., culturally looked down upon, parents are skeptical of their children’s futures, high schools tout the number of students that go on to university rather than trade school, etc.).
Lack of governmental support for vocational programs will likely be a challenge as well. (The U.S. federal government’s Tech-Prep program hasn’t been funded since 2011, and 25% of states reduced funding for similar programs in 2017.)
Lastly, there are concerns that students from minority/underrepresented backgrounds will be urged to adopt blue-collar jobs while other, more privileged students, will be sent to college.