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According to the Financial Times, the lack of vocational education stifles social mobility. The report states that the U.S. school system fails to equip poorer children with the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. It’s therefore extremely important for students without an opportunity structure to be able to progress in their careers through vocational training or other alternative education programs. Employment prospects based on education and training (journalist, engineer, accountant, lawyer, teacher, etc.), as opposed to industries where contacts, networking, and social standing are more important, are the key to economic and social mobility today.

According to the Chartered Management Institute, workers provided with additional experience and practical skills-based training that’s offered by vocational courses are being elevated out of poverty and their chances of progressing in work increase. Many sources state that the United States has one of the poorest rates of economic and social mobility in the world and is actually a place where the best jobs are only being afforded to the elite. There is evidence to suggest that in many of the world’s developed countries—including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom—there is a growing social divide between the classes, the incomes are dramatically divided, and that economic and social mobility is dwindling.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, vocational education has increased throughout America as it’s seen as the means to being able to climb the corporate ladder. Thus, it has become more attractive to businesses as a means to meet their needs. Thus, it’s no wonder that an uptake of internships, apprenticeships, work-based education, online learning and most importantly, vocational education, accelerate alternative education programs today.

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The Rise of Alternative Education Programs & Vocational Training

Traditionally used as a tool to train plumbers, builders, carpenters, etc., vocational training is now being used in other professions including accounting, engineering, and other leading industries to ensure candidates are fully trained and they’re able to succeed throughout their careers. What’s more, alternative education programs like vocational education is also being used to train managers, from low positions, helping those without the opportunity structures afforded to them by wealthy parents or a strong educational background the ability to climb the corporate ladder. Analysts say a failing education system has ‘dumbed down’ Americans and as students fight for fewer college places with increased fees, accommodation, and living expenses, vocational education is being viewed as important as a college degree. It is enabling workers to move up in life, work and encourages economic and social mobility.

One of the fundamental objectives of legislators is to discourage employers from using recruitment specifications and encourage them to take on young and eager workers who are willing to better themselves with internships, apprenticeships, additional work-based education, and vocational education.

Now, with so much prominence being placed on digital, online education is another avenue that is becoming an integral part of many organizations across the United States. Workers can search the internet and access online curriculum either at work or at home. Online courses give employees new skills that can increase their chances of qualifying for a better position, promotion or higher pay, and can also prove beneficial in the long-term by providing prospective employers with the skill sets they are looking for. Truly, it takes bold actions like these to ensure that economic and social mobility is rife in the United States. Online and vocational courses are certainly proving a successful tool for enabling upward social mobility in America today.

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