Larry D. Brice, assistant director of the Davis Area Vocational Center in Kaysville, believes every young person should learn a vocational or technical skill, no matter what field they plan to go into as adults.
Brice, who has been with the vocational center since it started in 1978, says learning a skill, whether it be welding, painting, metal working, computer operation or how to manipulate a 10-key adding machine, is not only satisfying but could bring in needed money while a person is attending college or a business school.Later, knowing a vocational or technical skill could be a life-saver if a person ever lost his or her job.
Among the many training programs offered at the school are auto-body repair, automotive mechanics, business education and information processing, computer programming, data processing, drafting, electronics, farm business management, food services and food management, health occupations, heavy duty diesel mechanics, licensed practical nursing, machine shop, marketing and welding.
"If you plan to be an architect or an engineer, learning drafting, any of the building skills, how to operate machinery or even how to operate a computer could help you. There is no reason an engineering student who needs a part-time job has to work for the minimum wage while he is going to college.
"If someone has a technical skill, he or she can often earn $5 or $6 an hour or more while attending college," Brice said.
The approximately 1,600 students who attend DAVC range from 16-year-old high school juniors to senior citizens. The 1,400 day school students include high school youths, recent high school graduates and mature adults who are increasing their chances of getting a job by learning a technical or vocational skill or who want a career in one of the trades or service occupations or in business.
Only about 20 percent of the 230 who attend night school at DAVC are taking classes for a hobby. "Most of our students are trying to get a job or further their careers."
While most parents want their children to earn a college degree and enter one of the professions, Brice says, "only a small percentage of each 100 high school graduates will actually get a degree, and many of these people will end up in jobs that don't even require a degree.
"In Utah, especially, there just aren't enough professional jobs for all the college graduates we turn out. So a great many graduates have to leave the state to find suitable work in their field or, if they stay in Utah, they take jobs for which they are usually over-qualified."
Brice said many people believe blue collar jobs or technical jobs don't have the status that white collar jobs do and "they don't want a job where they will get dirty or will have to work with their hands. The trouble is, a great many blue collar jobs pay as well as or better than white collar jobs. A master machinist, for instance, can practically name his own wage in most areas of the nation or even around the world - there is that much demand for these skilled craftsmen."
He said menial labor jobs are disappearing across the United States. "More and more, jobs are requiring skills such as the ability to work with numbers, operate a computer or other business equipment. Machines are doing a lot of the menial labor men used to do.
Brice says it needn't take years to learn a technical skill. Many of the programs at DAVC last only six to 18 months. "Of course, we aren't graduating journeymen mechanics, but we are providing skills to help people enter the world of work - skills that will help them get a job and keep it and skills that will help them progress in their careers."
The Kaysville vocational center is among five in Utah and is one of the largest. Brice said his school serves an estimated 5,000 people a year in one way or another, especially with one-day to one-week employer-sponsored courses that are in addition to the school's regular programs.
More information about DAVC and its programs may be obtained by calling 546-2441.