Consider Career Education, Too

Many of the new jobs created in the Ohio Valley during the past few years — and many of those on the horizon — have been in careers that do not require four-year college degrees. That has been true throughout West Virginia, prompting state education leaders to think about more emphasis on career training.

It appears the focus in that regard has been community and technical colleges. That is appropriate. Some training after high school is important in many of the most promising job opportunities for which bachelor’s degrees are not prerequisites.

Vocational education at the high school level is important, too. It can make some graduates job-ready. It can prepare others to go on to community or technical colleges, perhaps reducing what they have to spend there.

Here in Ohio County, Wheeling Park High School offers an impressive number of career/technical courses. They range from computer system repairs to restaurant management, from early childhood education to machine tool technology.

Now, as noted above, Ohio County public school officials are thinking about an $86 million capital improvements campaign. It represents an enormous opportunity for career training.

Consideration should be given to whether existing career/technical programs could benefit from some of that $86 million, perhaps in better technology.

And school officials should be looking down the road to career training that may be in great demand in a few years, but is not offered now. Could a reasonable investment in entirely new programs, perhaps with equipment funded through the $86 million program, open new doors for Ohio County students?

What used to be called vocational education often has been shortchanged in public schools. Plans for the capital improvements campaign should not be guilty of that flaw.