OUR VIEW: New Boost For Career Tech

There’s been lots of talk from educators, business leaders and government officials (we’ve also touted the concept here) about career technical training, with good reason.

Numbers from the Economics & Statistics Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, show science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations are projected to nearly double in growth compared to non-STEM fields by 2018. STEM workers also are projected to earn 26 percent higher wages than employees in other occupations.

People in Gadsden, to their credit, took career tech seriously before it became a bandwagon.

The city, Gadsden City Schools and Gadsden State Community College have long been united in a career tech initiative, trying to encourage students to pursue careers in those fields. Mayor Sherman Guyton has been an especially strong advocate.

City funds were used to build a career tech center on Gadsden City High School’s campus.

Last year, GCHS added advanced, specialized diploma tracks in three attractive career tech fields — biomedical services, computer information systems and electrical engineering.

And last week, Gadsden City Schools announced that the system will team with Gadsden State to enable students to take college-level engineering courses while still enrolled at the high school.

Those courses, Introduction to Engineering and Computer Assisted Drafting, will be taught at Gadsden State by faculty members there. The city will provide scholarship funds to cover the tuition. To date, eight students have signed up for the 12 available slots.

If the city school board is successful in obtaining a grant from the state Board of Education, a Computer Assisted Drafting course will be taught at the high school, which would allow students to obtain college credits without leaving their home campus.

We’ve consistently said, amid the praise, that the push for career tech shouldn’t siphon all the air out of the educational environment for students who want to pursue more traditional academic disciplines, or the arts. There should be a place for both linguists and robotics specialists in the world.

This is about options. Some pretty good ones exist for people who might have been overlooked in the past because they were better at working with their hands than at diagramming sentences, interpreting literature, remembering dates or solving equations. That word can’t get spread enough.

Gadsden Times editorial