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Vocational Training from Kindergarten to High School Fits Students To Follow Careers in Industry


IN A schoolroom at Burbank, Calif., seven – year – old youngsters build a dummy transport plane. One of the boys occupies the pilot’s cabin, a little girl stands at the door taking tickets, and others play the parts of passengers. Near-by, junior high-school students rebuild in miniature the Lockheed Aircraft Company’s main plant; while others construct a map showing Southern California’s mountains and airports. In Los Angeles, boys and girls of high-school age, and older, engage in fifty-one trades at the Frank Wiggins Trade School, putting on the finishing touches which prepare them to take real jobs in industry.

From kindergarten to graduation, industrial education in the Southwest follows a new pattern these days. In the lower grades, youngsters are encouraged to learn all they can about principal local industries. If the town boasts an aircraft plant or airport, they visit the scene and reproduce with cardboard and blocks what they see.

Such experiences carry many of the pupils on to special interests, which they are encouraged to develop in junior high and high school. In a hundred high schools in and around Los Angeles, boys and girls are being guided toward industrial jobs. Practice accompanies theory and their studies take on the realism of day-by-day work.

Educators know that most high-school students cannot find jobs immediately on graduation. It is to help avoid this loss in manpower that efforts are being made to fit men and women to industrial jobs, and in the Frank Wiggins Trade School, a free public institution administered by the Los Angeles City Board of Education, both youths and adults may prepare in all trades. Thousands who started by building planes from blocks become skilled aircraft designers, mechanics, and sheet-metal workers.

All students here work with their hands. There are no entrance examinations. Admission to classes is based upon the applicant’s personal fitness to profit by the training and ability to meet the trade requirements for employment. Depending upon the demands of the trade for which he proposes to fit himself, he may either have finished the eighth grade, or high school. Since the school proposes not only to train for, but also find a job, each student learns a single specialty.

There are no terms or semesters. Students may enter any time, and leave when they find employment. Advisory committees representing 201 employment levels meet regularly with the instructors, mapping study courses and finding jobs for both boys and girls. But the school’s influence does not end here. Workers already employed flock to the classrooms, where they learn new industrial developments in their various fields and perfect themselves in modern working methods.

After a student has left school, thousands of follow-ups trail him for years, for trade education of this sort, to be completely successful, must make sure that square pegs are fitted into square holes. Because of these intensive systems of try-outs in the elementary schools and specialized one-job training in the trade school, employers figuratively stand in line waiting to hire trade specialists the minute their instructors pronounce them qualified. There’s no wait between the Frank Wiggins certificate of eligibility and a job. These boys and girls know where they’re going.

1 comment
  1. nlpnt says: November 24, 20073:30 pm

    To this day, the level of vocational training vs. academics in schools is hotly debated.
    Probably unlikely we’ll see this level of vocational training started so early ever again, though – today’s good jobs are obsolete too quickly.

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