Lack of vocational education stifles US mobility | Financial Times

By Sam Fleming
US Economics Editor
Financial Times


If Torres Hughes had grown up in his part of the west side of Chicago in the 1960s or 1970s, manufacturing would have been a natural career choice.

But now his neighborhood is crippled by crime and unemployment and the 21-year-old factory worker says most local people have long given up on the sector — even though opportunities are still out there.

“Companies are hiring but nobody is skilled enough to work,” says Mr Hughes, who works on the factory floor at Chicago-based Freedman Seating, a company that makes seats for buses and trains. “You can’t just walk in and ask them to train you.”

Mr Torres made it to Freedman thanks in part to the education he received at a local school, Austin Polytechnical Academy, which offers students training in manufacturing skills such as computer-controlled cutting and design, in partnership with local employers.

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