Vocational education. For many, that label brings to mind a certain stereotype:
students who do not want to, or do not have the ability or interest to go onto college.
It is precisely that stereotype that drove Toledo Public Schools to change the title of those programs to Career Technology several years ago. It is a stereotype the school system is hoping to shatter as well.
At Clay, the term “vocational” was removed from courses at Clay 10 years ago when the academics included in the programming were increased to be college prep level, according to Steve Bialoruck, director of Career & Technology Education at Clay.
There are several college prep level courses available to students at Clay High School in areas of Agriculture, Information Technologies, Industrial & Engineering systems, and Health and Human Services.
“It is known that a higher education level translates into a higher salary,” said Bialorucki. “We realize this and have created a system where the students can enter the workforce and continue to learn while employed.”
Apprenticeship, community college, adult workforce development programs and four-year universities are all considered post-secondary education, he said.
The available courses follow a career pathways model, which means they allow the student to enter the workforce and continue post secondary education while they are employed in their field of interest, said Bialorucki.
• Agriculture: Agri-science (freshman/sophomore program); and Agri-business (junior/senior program).
• Information Technologies: Marketing (senior only program); Programming and Computer Simulations (junior/senior); Visual Communications or VCOM (junior/senior program).
• Industrial & Engineering Systems (junior/senior programs): Auto Technologies; Computer Aided Design and Drafting; Electronic Technologies; and Precision Machining.
• Health and Human Services (junior/senior programs): Cosmetology (new sophomore component this year); Culinary Arts (freshman and sophomore programs as well); Dental Technologies; and Medical Technologies (freshman and sophomore programs included as well).
“All programs are college prep,” said Bialorucki. “The courses are delivered through the Tech Prep model so academics are expected to be rigorous and relevant to the career field. All students are required to have Chemistry as a junior and a science course in their senior year. Med Tech and Dental Tech students take Chemistry and Anatomy, Cosmetology requires Bio-Chem. In addition to Career & Tech students take Algebra 2, Language Arts 11 & 12, Econ and Government.”
Seventy-eight percent go on to work in their chosen field, attend apprenticeship or college or enter the military, added Bialorucki.
The most popular program this year and for next year is the Medical Technologies program, he said. Career & Tech programs are generally completed in two years, he said. Usually, the courses are enrolled over the junior and senior years. There are some exceptions, such as Marketing, AG and Cosmetology. The oldest vocational programs at Clay are Automotive Tech, though it’s changed over the years, Cosmetology and Culinary, he said.
In addition to the course work, students are expected to acquire an industry credential in their area, he said.
As a result of the recession, Clay is preparing an Electronic Technologies program to train students for Solar and Wind Installations. “We are looking at green design in our Ag and our CADD programs as well,” Bialorucki added.
The programs are eligible for college credit through articulation agreements maintained through Tech Prep, he said. “Each program has different agreements based on comparable college coursework. The range is from 5-12 credit hours for career and tech completers.”
Kevin McCann, director of Career Technology, said TPS looks at its 30-plus career tech programs as a pathway with many different exits along the way.
“It is false to say the students in the programs are not going onto college. It is a career pathway. Many students go onto post secondary training at two and four year colleges as well as technical programs,” McCann said. “It is not an ‘either or’ thing. It is a fallacy that people believe that what we do is done after high school, that kids do not go on. That could not be further from truth.”
TPS offers programs in such fields as Construction Engineering, Design/CAD, and Manufacturing Engineering, Computer Technology, Information Technology, Visual Communications, Medical Technology, Teacher Education Exploration, Natural Resources, Turf and Landscape, and Auto Technology.
Programs are offered at several buildings throughout the school system. The 3,000-plus students in career tech attend the high school where their career of choice is being offered. Teacher Education Exploration is offered at Waite while the culinary programs are offered at Rogers and the graphics/printing program is held at Woodward.
Students enrolled in the Toledo Technology Academy receive career training beginning their freshman year. Students at the Aviation Center attend the school from sophomore through their senior years. Most programs are offered for students in their junior and senior years.
The most popular programs in TPS are those offered at the 10 year old Toledo Technology Academy, the graphics/printing program, culinary arts program, marketing program, as well as construction, automotive and auto body programs, McCann said.
TPS is always looking at new programming to offer students, McCann said adding that new programs are industry-driven.
“Our two newest programs last year were industry driven,” he said. “The telecommunications program was something the cable industry asked for. We also added a Supply Chain Management program at Woodward
Ideas on the table for next year are welding and “green” jobs, McCann said.
Freelance reporter Melissa Burden contributed to this story.