Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Training for Nonexistent Jobs

While working on some bank stuff at a local wireless-equipped hot spot, I wound up seeing a commercial for a local vo-tech educational facility on the Big Flat Screen so ubiquitous today in every public place. Of course, it extolled the virtues of that school, with some video of students at some place resembling in no way whatever the local facilities of the august institution itself.

I know exactly what the place looks like, because I was a student there myself. It looks exactly the same as when I was a student, because I was over there not two weeks ago and dropped by to scope the place out just to see if it had somehow changed into the clean, bright, high-tech facility on the TV ads. Of course it hadn't changed. If anything, it was even dumpier.

But the students, presumably, don't go there because of the airy decor and bright, welcoming atmosphere, but to get a job when they get out. It is, after all, a vo-tech school. They confer no degree, just the opportunity to qualify for the magic paper needed in the bright career field and the assurance that employers will consider their graduates favorably in the field. They teach, they claim, the basic skills needed for success in the students' chosen field.

The only problem is that there are no such jobs available locally, and while they do exist nationwide, it's much better than even money few of the bright-eyed prospects brought to the school's Career Counselor (a former used car salesman weighing at least a quarter ton) by these ad blitzes have no idea just how scarce those slots are or the conditions they will encounter in field as entry level practitioners.

This school, and the others nationwide in its particular field, are not the only offenders in this practice. Lots of vo-tech schools set completely unrealistic expectations for career prospects, and always have, even in the days when people besides doctors and lawyers and accountants and MBAs (or, as a friend calls them, Style Guys) had a shot at something besides dismal telemarketing or retail jobs. But few of these schools charge what these guys charge.

In my case, I can't complain. I knew job prospects were not great (although not quite as bad as they actually are now, with the one local opportunity having been the victim of business failure) when I signed up. I'd been around these contraptions since I was a kid and I knew what a rotten industry it could be. I did it for completely atypical-although no less foolish-reasons, and I knew I'd be paying it off forever with a good possibility of the only reward being an obscure piece of paper making for a good story in watering holes. (Even fewer people care than I thought, adding injury to insult.) But boy, are those scruffy kids piling in with hopes of improving their career prospects in for a good screwing.

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