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Clinton Talks Up Vocational Education

Domestic policy minutiae have understandably not been at the forefront of debates this election season, which is shaping up to be an historic referendum on the liberal-democratic wold order rather than a routine contest between the time-worn prescriptions of left and right. But one of Hillary Clinton’s specific policy ideas in last night’s address is worth highlighting nonetheless:

And here’s something we don’t say often enough: College is crucial, but a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job.

We’re going to help more people learn a skill or practice a trade and make a good living doing it.

These remarks echo Clinton’s comment during the primaries that America should “get back to really respecting vocational and technical work.” The Democratic nominee deserves credit for challenging the typical Boomer-progressive consensus on this issue, which holds that we should be shepherding more and more people four-year diploma factories, even as the student debt burden grows and the educational value of the BA is increasingly called into question. And education system that emphasized practicable skills could reduce unemployment rates, accelerate of social mobility, and diminish the bifurcation between the college-educated upper-middle class and Americans who would rather not spend four years of their lives in pursuit of a BA.

That said, Clinton’s higher education plan includes an ill-conceived expansion of tuition subsidies for colleges and universities, which threatens to further inflate the higher education bubble and undermine efforts to beef up technical education. Here’s hoping that, if elected, Clinton will honor her promise to respect vocational work seriously, and supplement her tuition plan for aspiring professionals with measures to support aspiring welders, carpenters, and mechanics.

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  • TGates

    We had a diesel technician course at our local community college. All of the expenses were paid for by the likes of CAT, John Deere, etc, because of the need for these technicians was so great. There was no cost to the students who entered the program and upon successful completion of the 2-year program, graduates were guaranteed a job starting at $35 an hour, with the potential of a six figure income within 6-8 years. The course had to be closed because of a lack of interest. It takes more than free tuition; it takes an open culture, measurement of aptitude and most importantly effective guidance by Family and Schools to make it work what Ms. Clinton is advocating. As the Dems never appear to learn or even care, not every problem can be solved by throwing money at it.

    • vb

      Another thing that needs to be mentioned is that learning doesn’t stop when you graduate, nor is it limited to job skills. A diesel technician (or a nurse or a plumber) can pursue other interests like history or art or literature by taking advantage of the internet. Books are available, as are blogs and journals, that allow people to keep learning their whole life.

      • Fat_Man

        They sure as heck can’t learn anything about history, art, and literature in college these days.

    • Blackbeard

      This is the key. In the 2012 primaries Rick Santorum had the temerity to challenge Obama’s statement that everyone should go to college and he was universally ridiculed. Who really does the idea of universal college education serve? The academic establishment. The academy, the media and the entertainment industry are the triumvirate that support the Left on every issue and support each other too. So if someone challenges the idea that perhaps everyone wouldn’t benefit from four years in a classroom, or that perhaps college shouldn’t really be “free,” then of course the media is quickly on the attack.

  • ragline

    Vocational education should be expanded beyond the mechanical stuff to electronic, medical, software, etc. There are some well-paying careers there that shouldn’t require a college indoctrination, er, education.

  • Josephbleau

    There are vocational jobs all over the place, in every building in Chicago there are guys laying marble floors and putting up vinyl wallbpaper, and laying maple floors who make 200K per year. “What do they have that you don’t have, asks the Wizard?” Mob connections.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Why does this sound like an endorsement for mob management of employment everywhere?

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