No state is in a better position to capitalize on technical training of its work force than Utah, Roger Vaughan told a legislative committee Wednesday.Vaughan recently completed a study of the potential for vocational/
technical education in the state and said he found two factors that favor a significant shift to that type of training: an excellent pool of human resources and a team spirit among those working to promote a shift toward more vo/tech education.
He spoke to the members of the Education Interim Committee during a meeting in the State Office of Education Building.
Changing the image of vocational/
technical training is a major hurdle, Vaughan said. "It will help neither the collegebound student to prepare for work, nor the non-collegebound student who goes directly into the work force," he said, as long as it is considered "the retarded stepchild of `proper' education."
He proposed that Utah track graduates as they go into various occupations, compare how long their training took and what they are earning after a period of a few years beyond school. That information should then be made available to parents and students so they can make informed choices about post-high school education.
Such data might surprise parents as they learned that an individual with two years of training in engineering was out-earning the new lawyer with six years of training behind him, Vaughan said.
Vaughan was complimentary of Utah's seventh-grade Technology Life and Career program, which exposes students to a variety of potential work opportunities. He said using teachers to design the program made it more valuable.
"We need that kind of program for all students," he said.
Educators should change their perceptions of how much education is benefiting students by using the proficiencies the child develops as a measure, rather than how much time is spent in classwork.
Among his suggestions was a "lifelong learning system" that offers more flexibility for students to enroll in needed classes, more transferability of credits among institutions and courses that are more oriented toward client needs and less to "what the teacher wants to teach." Under such a system, teachers would become "learning managers," he said, and students would work in teams, just as workers in most businesses work in collaborative units.
"We need to rethink how we do schools," Vaughan summed up.