The Undervalued Necessity
Discovering a career is a daunting task for everyone. With a multitude of options, developing a skill in a trade school is often overlooked by many young adults. A career school can be the easiest way to land a promising career at the time of graduation.
These learning institutions have their roots in the notion of apprenticeships. When a young man would come of age, he would be taught a trade by a skilled craftsman. This evolved over time into career institutions like Keystone Technical Institute (KTI) and York Career Institue (YTI).
“There are approximately 110,000 students currently attending a private postsecondary career and technical school in Pennsylvania,” says Aaron Shenck, executive director of Pennsylvania Association of Private School Administration.
These career institutions are responsible for mechanics, plumbers, business administrators, secretaries, veterinarians and a surfeit of other careers. The institutions that we know today were developed from those who understood and recognized a need for formal trade education.
“The current job market and high salary potential in career and technical education fields, along with the efficient and flexible education provided at these schools, is why many adults are going back to vocational schools, going for retraining or maybe learning a new trade that is in higher job demand,” says Shenck.
These trades are the backbone to the economy and housing and consumer industries. They are the unsung heroes of the general populous, and while their work is not always paraded, it is vital that these trades continue to prosper.
“Career schools have an absolute place in providing an alternative for folks looking to gain further education. If this sector does not exist, what I suggest people do is take a look around at everyday life, and ask yourself, ‘What would life be without these trained individuals,’” says Dave Snyder, president of Keystone Technical Institute (KTI).
The graduates of technical-education schools are put through rigorous requirements in order to graduate. A majority of the programs offered delineate between 10 to 28 months of education. This means that, each day, extensive work loads are distributed in order to graduate on time.
“The work load [is strenuous]. You do try to fit everything [into your education] that you need to be in a career field. With drafting, they split it up into mechanical, architectural and civil. So, it’s a lot of information to pack into one program,” says Jessica Schultz, a computer-aided drafting and design student at YTI.
The information that both YTI and KTI provide is held to a high standard by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Regulated requirements are very strictly implemented. The ACCSC will meet once a year to approve and suggest ways to improve the curriculum.
“Based on our most recent statistics, approximately 3 out of every 4 graduates from a private postsecondary career and technical school are placed directly into a job in their chosen career field upon graduation,” says Shenck.
The best tool that the students have to achieve graduation is their professor. The ACCSC requires that professors have a minimum of three years experience in their field in order to be an instructor.
“The fact that our professors have experience in the field does help. This makes it easier for them to relate what we are doing in class to what we would be doing in the real-life job. I really like that aspect about YTI,” says Schultz.
Typically at YTI and KTI, the professors are not the only adults in the room with prior work-force experience. Both institutions have increasing numbers of non-traditional students. A non-traditional student is a student who did not begin attending the institution directly after high school.
“It is often easier for [the non-traditional student] to attend KTI. They have lived life. They understand the importance of why they are here. They are coming to school out of need. They are coming to school out of passion,” says Snyder.
The non-traditional student ventures from vast educational experiences. Due to their experience arsenal being larger, there is often an opportunity to utilize prior knowledge.
“I went to York College, and I have a bachelor’s degree from York College. I was 29 when I decided to come to YTI, and I feel as if that worked in my advantage. I had a lot of classes that, with my transcripts, I was able to get out of. I came here with a lot of work experience, and that allowed me to come here to receive the hands-on portion of the trade,” says Ian Dellinger, a computer-systems specialist student at YTI.
That is the focus of both YTI and KTI – a stable financial future. It is important to couple both what you love to do and financial security. This is the cause of deliberation between a college and technical institute; colleges provide an education with a hope of employment, and technical institutes provide a promise of employment with the ability to self-educate.
“If you are going to school for an education, then look at it from an educational standpoint. If you are going to school for employment, then look at the employment outcomes before starting that program, and know what is expected of you. Know what you can achieve,” says Snyder.
The education of technical schooling is always specific to the chosen career path at YTI and KTI so that the student knows exactly what will be achieved. Even the general-education requirements are angled in a way that will aid the student in his or her future, and most of the educational requirements are in very specialized fields.
“These are often in our specialized associate-degree programs,” says Adrienne Scott, vice-president of operations and education at YTI.
The common misconception about these schools is that their education or learning processes are not equivalent to that of a four-year school. These students receive a more comprehensive education of their field in a shorter time period, which is what allows them to begin their new life so quickly.
“I think there are still a lot of people who do not understand what a career trade school has to offer, and typically once a person gets to come here and actually see the classrooms and labs, they have a whole different understanding and appreciation for what we do,” says Scott.
Schools such as YTI and KTI offer an affordable alternative to the four-year college or university that will still provide a successful career for the man or woman who wants to improve his or her life while still working in an important occupation.
“When you want to eliminate, or exclude, or expunge the career-school industry, you are going to have a huge void. There is no mechanic, no one at the doctor’s office, no electrician. We do a lot when it comes to helping the world we live in function. I think it is important that folks understand that is a viable alternative,” says Snyder.
The contemporary push for education has been overshadowing one of the most important and necessary alternative options to a college or university. The career market is not dwindling, but rather, the worker is hyper-focusing on a small area. The value in trades is the necessity. It is time to value the necessity.
For more information on KTI, visit kti.edu or call (717) 524-1264. For additional information on YTI, please visit yti.edu or call (888) 381-0451.