President Calls for Expansion of Vocational Education in State of the Union Address

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President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address on January 30 was laden with bold visions and plans for the country. For proponents and advocates of vocational education, one particular statement stood out during the eighty-minute speech.

“Let's invest in workforce development,” he began, “and let's invest in job training, which we need so badly. Let's open great vocational schools, so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential.”

This proclamation was music to the ears of many who believe that too much emphasis has recently been placed on traditional four-year degrees which has left trade and vocational education neglected. Workforce statistics show that gaping holes still persist in filling jobs which require vocational training and trade education.

NPR Education Correspondent Anya Kamenetz - commenting on Trump’s statement - elaborated further on how the U.S. government is currently addressing this pressing issue. She notes that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos supports expanding vocational education, and she recently spoke to the U.S. Conference of Mayors about the range of innovations she would like to see, such as “industry-recognized certifications, two-year degrees, stackable credits, credentials and licenses, advanced degrees, badges, four-year degrees, microdegrees” and “apprenticeships.”

The Senate is also currently holding committee hearings on the re-authorization of the Higher Education Act by which the nation’s student financial aid system operates.