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Pruden education good choice

Published 9:41pm Thursday, April 11, 2013

As much as it might seem to be the American educational dream, not every student in high school is destined for college. Even among those for whom financial and other, similar hurdles are not insurmountable, a university education is not always the right choice.

It used to be that people in such situations would join the military, go to vocational school or settle for a minimum-wage job with little chance of advancement. Though the ultimate choices are similar, there is a world of difference between, say, the vocational school of the 1970s and the similar alternative offered today.

The Pruden Center for Industry and Technology is a great example of the leaps-and-bounds advancement made in what used to be known as vocational education or Vo-Tech. Gone are the days when it was a glorified version of what folks knew as “shop class” in the 1950s. Today’s “shop class” is an entire program devoted to teaching students all of the major building trades to help them become qualified for career-track positions, rather than jobs as laborers.

Other programs at Pruden teach students to run restaurant kitchens, support high-end computer research, assist in providing health care for humans and animals, perform advanced automotive service on today’s highly technical cars and engines, provide top-notch computer support and services and operate a range of heavy machinery.

The skills of students studying for that last career field were on display on Wednesday, as the Pruden Center held its annual Heavy Equipment Rodeo. About 15 young men of high school age took turns at the controls of three different backhoes to show off the skills they had learned and compete to show who had the most deft touch.

Family and friends were on hand to cheer for the young men, and there were even a few representatives of area contractors attending to gauge the talent of their future job applicants. Judging from Wednesday’s performance, those employers can look forward to a well-qualified, respectful and conscientious crop of young workers after graduation.

Society needs just those sorts of people to do so many of the jobs that are indispensable, even though they do not require a college education. The folks at the Pruden Center are doing Suffolk a huge favor by providing an environment where young people can learn to fill those jobs.

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