Appreciating Technical Training in California

By April 25, 2007General

California makes it awfully difficult for manufacturers these days, as policymakers and the public discourage energy development, add regulatory burden upon burden, and embrace more government at every turn. Governor Schwarzenegger is, alas, all too often part of the problem.

But to his credit, the Governor, and to their credits, many other Californians are engaged in serious, good work to promote improved technical training, the kind of educational programs better able to meet the demands of the modern workplace, manufacturing included. Schwarzenegger, himself a product of the Austrian vocational education system, has called for a series of initiatives — spending initiatives — to expand the opportunities for high-quality career training. He has also made excellent use of the bully pulpit, holding California’s first Career Technical Education Summit in March (remarks here).

Working parallel, a coalition representing business, labor, education and public safety — including our friends at the California Manufacturers and Technology Association — is pushing a legislative package to beef up career and technical education. Called GET REAL (Relevance in Education and Learning), the group’s members appeared today at the first hearing on the bill, S.B. 672.

Andrew Becker of the Contra Costa Times recently wrote a good piece on the voc-ed debate, and education writer Peter Schrag examined the education-business tension in this column.

So, kudos to the Californians who acknowledge that education needs to change to keep up with the demands of the economy and the interests of their citizens. In this area, at least, of intense interest to manufacturers, California is showing solid leadership.