I spent the better part of forty years plying a trade that I learned at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College aka "The College Of Motersickle Knowledge". I am a huge booster of vocational education.
The article described things I knew and things I didn't. Worth a read.
Vocational education used to be where you sent the dumb kids or the supposed misfits who weren't suited for classroom learning. [...]
Unfortunately, the education establishment's response to the voc-ed problem only made things worse. Over time, it morphed into the theology that every child should go to college (a four-year liberal-arts college at that) and therefore every child should be required to pursue a college-prep course in high school. The results have been awful. High school dropout rates continue to be a national embarrassment. And most high school graduates are not prepared for the world of work. The unemployment rate for recent high school graduates who are not in school is a stratospheric 33%. The results for even those who go on to higher education are brutal: four-year colleges graduate only about 40% of the students who start them, and two-year community colleges graduate less than that, about 23%. "College for everyone has become a matter of political correctness," says Diane Ravitch, a professor of education at New York University. "But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than a quarter of new job openings will require a bachelor of arts degree. We're not training our students for the jobs that actually exist." Meanwhile, the U.S. has begun to run out of welders, glaziers and auto mechanics--the people who actually keep the place running.
The average of students at LATTC when I went there was about 26. The students were at the age when they realized it was gonna be a dead-end world for them if they didn't learn how to do something. It was their way up and out and they took it damned seriously.
Getting kids involved in real vo-tech, as opposed to busy-work for the dumb and delinquent like turning chair legs or fixing clunkers, while they're still in High School is a damn fine idea.