In a US Chamber of Commerce speech, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) called for encouraging more Americans to review at non-traditional vocational schools. As reported by Alexis Levinson of The Daily Caller, Rubio gave a brief speech in an event for strengthening ties between business and education that stressed broader solutions for education policy that will strengthen the economy.
The key concern of business, Rubio said, ought to be lack of untrained workers. Calling it a “fundamental obstacle,” Rubio pointed into it as a very large national problem, saying:
The simple fact is that millions of our people don\’t have the skills that they need for the Twenty-first century.\”
Student loans were among the concerns Rubio addressed. He required better advice and instruction for college students who are considering student loans so that they accurately estimate the likely earnings from a career before you take out financing.
He also called for expanding federal student education loans for non-traditional higher education, including vocational schools and online schools. Rubio praised the practical training that many of these schools give, stating his opinion that we should not look down on such education. Also, he pointed out that an increasing number of students are older and already have work experience. Non-traditional students usually find it hard to go to school full-time, so they gravitate to non-traditional and online programs.
Enrollment has been reported to be increasing throughout the recession, and many of these students are older. The Census Bureau reported only 271,000 high school graduates under 25 were enrolled in vocational schools this year. But in 2010, the GAO reported a much higher overall figure, up to 1.8 million. Older workers who have been laid off, or who completed college and could not find career-track work, constitute many of this wave of vocational students.
At this time around, federal student loans are available for many vocational schools for example giant ITT Technical Institute. But many fear that increasing educational flexibility will also increase scams; Pennsylvania State Attorney General Jerry Pappert uncovered a web-based school scam in 2004 by buying a degree for a cat.
Part from the answer is better regulation. Many states will work hard to keep up with new vocational an internet-based schools. The New York Senate’s just-released report states that regulators are trying to approve 200 more such schools to add to the state’s existing 500. As more schools are regulated and accredited, federal student aid and opportunities increases.
In the partisan atmosphere of Washington, D. C., said Rubio, it can be very hard to get attention for something like education, which is not a crisis or headline-maker. It’s great news and bad news both, the Senator said:
The great news is that this is something there\’s broad support for. The bad news is that because it\’s not partisan, since it is not controversial, it\’s not getting nearly as much attention because it needs to be getting.
The Sunshine State Senator was elected this year. The son of Cuban immigrants, he lives in Miami together with his wife and 4 children. He isn\’t often asked about education issues; instead, most questions addressed to Rubio are about immigration controversies. He is considered a frontrunner for that 2016 presidential election, so it is not surprising that he is trying to expand his image and address issues that are both less controversial and likely to appeal to more people. Another frontrunner, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, has made education a high priority in the state and frequently speaks on the subject. Rubio, who must fight to avoid being labeled the Hispanic candidate with limited general appeal, should be expected to speak on topics like education more regularly in the coming year.