Vocational Schools Have A Career Opportunity

Vocational Schools Have Career Opportunity

The convergence of Gen Y and Z and the new job market.

The idea of apprenticeship is an old one. The word alone takes you back to the days when the objective of an education was not a test score, but mastery of a process and pride in the outcome.

It’s a concept that both Gen Y and Gen Z are ready to embrace. Both are champions of the maker movement – are seeking paths to success that do not involve 4-year degree programs and crushing debt. Both groups are known for debunking standardized thinking, even going so far as to deconstruct medical research into a DIY endeavor.

For these reasons, states like Utah (OK, maybe there’s no other state like Utah, but you get the idea) are recognizing the value of connecting millennials with vocational training, and more will probably follow.

Here’s a look at how vocational schools can capitalize on what the Millennial labor force wants, what the labor market needs, and what will ultimately make vocational schools themselves more competitive.

Context: Taking a page out of EU history books

Anyone who has traveled through Europe may have noticed that Germans in the trades and technical working classes are proud of what they do. Unlike many Americans, they don’t labor under the belief that their work contribution is less than anyone else’s. They just do their job.

It’s refreshing, and it reminds us that the EU’s relationship with trade schools has a rich history and is a critical part of their social policies regarding employment and workforce training. It’s also worth remembering that EU nations value work-life balance – something Millennials relate to well.

What America vocational schools are missing.

US-based vocational schools have been slow to sense the opportunity before them.

Many, like Porter and Chester Institute here in CT, continue to show shop floor-level B-roll of guys with safety goggles standing around a machine. Snore.

Others are seeing (and acting on) the opportunity to tailor content to the audiences. For example, Fox Valley Technical College, a highly rated vocational school makes good use of graphics, clearly defined personas, and a clear, simple message.

For consideration: 3 branding ideas for vocational schools/

  • Invest in content that tells a different story. Invest in artistically shot imagery of finished products, satisfied workers, work-life balance, and the social dimension of working as part of a team.
  • Speak to the values of the maker movement. Pride in craftsmanship, small-batch thinking, and unique experiences are central to what animates the maker movement. Check out how The Landing School, a leading marine trade school, uses clean web pages strong subheads, and the right language to convey its value.
  • Partner, partner, partner. We think a vocational school should be viewed as a turnstile rather than destination. It should be positioned as a means to an end, and feature multiple organizational partners to prove out its power as a nexus. This can mean developing internships with corporations, bringing in speakers who are successful entrepreneurs, connecting students with online portfolio-building tools, and so forth.

We see big things in store for vocational schools that brand themselves correctly. If you do too, let’s talk.