WHAT WE NEED IS A GOOD DOSE OF VOTECH

Posted: July 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Sometime between 1952 and 1956 during the Governor Bob Kennon’s administration, Farmerville, Louisiana received funding for a new votech school.  Despite fierce lobbying for the school to be located in Lincoln Parish, the Union Parish Legislatures won and Lincoln Parish would have to wait.

This was a time that craftsmen fueled the American economy.  Farmerville High School also had a “shop” class.  Located in what is now the band building, one could pass by the building with the large doors facing the street and see the wood craft tables and equipment.  The aura of fresh sawdust could be smelled when passing the open doors during the warm months.

The votech at Farmerville educated, trained and then turned out a large number of men and women that helped to build our country.  Many a welder walked out of the school and went on to pipeline projects around America and some ultimately traveling overseas.  Secretarial classes turned out secretaries and book keepers.  My own wife attended and held the record in typing.  Mechanics came from the votech school and nurses from a later-introduced voteck program filled vacant slots in hospitals and nursing homes.  My daughter, a nurse anesthetist at St. Francis, began her nursing education at the votech in Farmerville. 

By the mid-1960s the space race was in full blossom.  Engineering and college degrees were becoming an in-fashion requirement.  A college degree instead of a votech certificate was becoming the desire.  The mid-seventies witnessed the introduction of data processing which led to the personal computers and the computer science world.  Then in the 1980s we saw the oil bubble bust so welders and pipefitters went home and the downturn in the housing market led to layoffs in the craft fields; carpenters, plumbers, electricians; etc.  Votech schools suffered and programs were dropped and in some cases the entire school closed.  Her success stemmed from the votech system.

We have now witnessed a resurgence in the American economy and the need for skilled labor is apparent.  The lifting of oil and gas restrictions has prompted a big demand for welders and pipe fitters.  The housing market has emerged from the dark days of the recession and labor in many markets is not available prompting visas to be issued for Latin Americans.

In addition to formal training, many of the crafts needed today require post-education certifications to be able to work on some projects.  This certification is no easy task and requires not only training but passing tests to prove proficiency,  The American construction landscape has changed and morphed into a much more education demanded landscape.

With this renaissance of craft the United States must return to it votech programs and produce the skilled workers that the economy so desperately needs.  We can’t wait or procrastinate on this subject.  Action must take place swiftly with funding made available to train our labor forces. 

As a society, we must embrace the craftsman as a builder of the nation and not place sole emphasis on college.  College is wonderful and has a very important place in our education foundation but just as important are the schools that turn out the men and women that work with their hands and their minds.

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