Education Opinion

Vocational Ed. Is Antidote to Visa Abuses

By Walt Gardner — June 17, 2015 1 min read
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If anything further is needed to convince state legislators about the importance of career and technical education today, they have to look no further than the way the H-1B program is being exploited by companies in this country (“Workers Betrayed by Visa Loopholes,” The New York Times, Jun. 15). Intended to provide employers with the means to fill jobs with skilled workers whom they could not find domestically, the program has been used instead to bring in cheap labor.

I realize that slashing payrolls is the reason companies take advantage of the immigration law. They do so by claiming that they can’t find qualified American workers. Therefore, they argue that they are forced to look abroad. But I maintain that if career and technical education were given far greater support and recognition in schools, the supply of skilled workers would reveal the real reason.

The proposed changes in the immigration law would require companies to demonstrate that they have made a concerted effort to find workers in this country, for example, by posting job openings on the Labor Department website. If the same site posted the names of workers with the needed skills, the government would be in a position to investigate fraud. That’s why I urge state lawmakers to disabuse themselves of the notion that college is for everyone and get behind an effort to make career and technical education a viable option.

Historians are going to look back at our obsession for college for all as a folly. But we have bought into the fiction that without a college degree the future is bleak, and nothing seems to be able to bring a sense of reality to those in power.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.