Pioneer Institute and First Things Magazine recently hosted an hour-long webinar examining the successes of vocational-technical schools, how education in the trades is faring nationwide, and the prospects for today’s high school graduates as they seek careers and additional training beyond the secondary level. The webinar was introduced by Mark Bauerlein, a contributing editor at First Things magazine, and conducted by Emmett McGroarty, a faculty fellow at Belmont Abbey College and Director of Research and Planning at The Institute for Human Ecology at The Catholic University of America. Guests included Michelle Martinez, senior manager of the State Association Professional Development SkillsUSA, David Ferreira, a longtime voc-tech instructor and administrator and now communications coordinator for the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, and Chris Sinacola, Director of Communications at Pioneer.
The conversation centered on Pioneer’s 2022 publication “Hands-On Achievement: Massachusetts’s National Model Vocational-Technical Schools,” edited by Ferreira and Sinacola. The book outlines more than a century of voc-tech success in Massachusetts, including strong ties to local business communities and advisors, and the 1993 education reform legislation which helped transform these traditional trade schools into models of academic and vocational excellence, and truly schools of choice for a new generation of students. Today, voc-tech schools in Massachusetts train students for rewarding careers in dozens of fields. They have minuscule dropout rates, boast graduation rates that are above the average for all high schools in the Massachusetts, and have long waiting lists.