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The California Department Education estimates that nearly than 1.7 million students are currently participating in adult and vocational education programs in the state. In our community, enrollment in adult and vocational education is expected to rise as more and more families move into Placer County, one of the fastest growing counties in the Golden State.

Once considered solutions for drop-outs and non-college bound students, demand for vocational education is rising.  A poll by the James Irvine Foundation released last week shows that California students want vocational education to help motivate them and achieve success.

Of the hundreds of students included in the poll, 9th and 10th graders revealed that more than half didn’t particularly like school and were not motivated to succeed.  Additionally, a vast majority said they would be more motivated if their school offered vocational education classes relevant to their future careers and interests.

The study shows that kids want programs that include both academics and a real-world education.  It is the responsibility of effective educational administrators to develop, promote and offer these types of learning programs to enrich the lives of both children and adults and keep them in school, learning.

Currently, there are numerous programs offered in Placer County. These courses focus on trades ranging from restaurant and hotel workforce training to automobile maintenance and mechanics. As demand rises and our population increases, more programs will be needed. Besides the obligation we have to our residents, adult life-long learning and vocational education is important to our local economy for these reasons.

Vocational education:

1) Prepares students, adults and children alike, with skills that are used in the real world.

2) Offers skills to help people land jobs in today’s global economy.

3) Promotes job growth in our growing community.

4) Enhances people’s lives who are looking to learn something new, not necessarily for a professional requirement.

5) Programs are designed to assist the disabled in improving their quality of life by enhancing employment options.

6)  Can establish Placer County as a leader in education.

7)  Entices more students (adults and youth) to come to our schools….spend their dollars in Placer County and boosts the Placer County economy.

If we can continue to provide and improve vocational education for our youth and adults-alike, we will have a better opportunity to keep kids in school and to provide a more well-rounded workforce for our growing county today and into the future.

With strong educational leadership we can re-direct existing resources towards vocational education programs to enhance life-long learning for all citizens of Placer County.