Trust me–I believe in academic education. I have three engineering degrees, a son who is a medical doctor, and another son who also earned a Bachelor of Science degree. BUT, West Virginia, and the United States as a whole, need BOTH academic and practical education opportunities. As much as we need brilliant scientists, engineers, and people formally educated in other academic fields, we also need trades-people that are skilled in welding, carpentry, and plumbing, to name just a few skills. We all know the joke about the medical doctor who is unable to fix a leaky faucet.
One of the major disconnects in our educational system is how a student progresses from a local school system’s vocational education program–if it exists–to becoming a fully trained artisan. When I worked in our naval shipyards, some of our most highly skilled–and highly compensated–trades people were those welders who were able to do mirror TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding and were nuclear certified. Fortunately, both Hampshire and Mineral County School Systems provide vocational education opportunities for their students; but we need more.
I want to build relationships with the local school systems and industries so that defined paths are available for graduating high school students that want to pursue a career in specific tradecrafts. I am privileged to have received the official endorsement of the WV Building and Construction Trades PAC.