The Good, Bad and Ugly of Trade Schools

Ty Branaman and Eric Kaiser return to the podcast to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of trade schools. They cover the opportunities and challenges they've observed in trade schools.

As with for-profit colleges, for-profit trade schools market programs aggressively and can take people who are at a crossroads in their life and saddle them with debt. In some cases, trade schools are hesitant to fail people and end up passing people who don't have the technical proficiency to be effective tradespeople. Sometimes, trade schools don't emphasize practical skills and contractors' experiences as much as they could, either.

The tricky part about trade schools is their allocation of resources, which instructors typically can't control. Sometimes, too much money is spent on equipment, and not enough is spent on the instructors. There needs to be an appropriate balance of both in an effective program. Administrative distractions can also make programs less likely to produce effective technicians. The admission process also doesn't always sort people into appropriate classes; many people with low proficiency are put into classes that are too advanced for them.

People are going into trade schools with less mechanical aptitude than in previous generations, and trade schools often skip over the basics of tool use. Students need to know how to use tools before they learn how to fix systems, and that tool proficiency needs to be reinforced. Continuing education is also more focused on paperwork than application and isn't as thorough as it probably could be.

Ty, Eric, and Bryan also discuss:

  • First-generation trade school graduates
  • Administrative challenges with trades instructors
  • Motivating students
  • Instructor qualifications
  • “PowerPoint teaching”
  • Automated systems
  • Bringing work experience to the classroom
  • Where does podcasting fit into trades education?


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