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Fardad Fateri Opinion: It’s Time To Recognize the Importance of Short-Term Career Training Programs

Fardad Fateri Opinion: It’s Time To Recognize the Importance of Short-Term Career Training Programs

Florida Daily

November 28, 2023
The enrollment trends in postsecondary education for fall this year offer a promising indication that an increasing number of Americans are acknowledging vocational and trade schools as a viable and credible alternative to a conventional college education. A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse shows that students continue to gravitate towards short-term and credential programs, up nearly 10% compared to just 3.6% for associate degree programs and just 0.9% for bachelor’s degrees.
Why is the appetite for short-term programs growing, even as interest in four-year degrees declines? Short-term career training programs offered at trade and vocational schools have become well-established as an alternative for students who seek to gain employable skills without the time commitment and cost burden of a traditional college degree program.
The advantages of vocational and career training programs are numerous. They are more affordable, have higher graduation rates than traditional programs, provide hands-on learning, build relevant skills that employers seek, and take far less time to complete. Some programs, such as those required to earn a commercial truck driving license, can be finished in as few as seven weeks. Additionally, unlike traditional colleges and universities, the schools providing these programs also offer comprehensive career services.
The growing popularity of short-term programs is also reflective of the modern job market. The largest portion of jobs (52%) in the U.S. require training beyond high school, but not a four-year degree, and employers of all sizes and industries are grappling with an ongoing labor shortage. The shortage of skilled tradespeople has been well documented. For example, there is a need for 258,000 new automotive technicians, but only a fraction of that are in the current student pipeline. Similarly, demand for trained electricians has grown exponentially with 812,000 needed by 2032. The construction industry will need to attract an estimated 546,000 additional workers to meet the demand for skilled labor. Workforce shortages are also impacting healthcare organizations nationwide with increasing demand for positions such as medical assistants and pharmacy technicians.
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