The Importance of Vocational Education – revisited

talent_competitiveness2While in Singapore recently I was impressed to learn that it and Switzerland are ranked most highly in “talent competitiveness” but not for the reason you think (high test scores). No, curiously enough, they are high in competitiveness because of their very strong vocational schools.  Most impressive is this quote about Switzerland “…half of the ministers have come out of the vocational stream.” This fact runs counter to the popular assumption that success depends upon a traditional university degree. This was also highlighted in a Harvard report that acknowledged the obvious fact that not all students are best served in a traditional bachelor’s degree program. I suspect that President Obama is aware of these facts and this is motivating his recent proposal to make 2-year vocational programs completely free. This sounds pretty radical, doesn’t it?  Not really. All such schools are free in the rather conservative nation of Singapore. When will we catch up with the progressive thinking of this conservative approach??