On Tuesday, the Aiken Standard published a story about Emashji Williams, a South Aiken High student who recently won state and national honors for his work in mobile electronics.
Williams has translated his love for auto mechanics into what potentially will be a bright, and lucrative, future.
We are quick to praise the academic and athletic accomplishments of our students. We place such a premium on college degrees that the hard working vocational students can be overlooked.
Williams took first place as a Skills USA state competition last spring and went on to finish 12th at the nationals in Kansas City, Mo., this summer.
The high school senior is enrolled in automotive technology at the Aiken County Career and Technology Center and hopes to attend the Universal Tech Institute in Orlando, Fla. After 14 months, he would become an Automotive Service Excellence-certified technician and would then continue to study collision and repair.
From there he can start his career doing something he loves.
A college education is important, but not for everyone. And these days, with the cost of college skyrocketing to heights becoming unattainable to many, there must be alternatives.
Fifty years ago, for the most part only a smaller group of people went to college. In the 1970s and 1980s, college was affordable and the push was on for more students to enroll. “Without a college degree, you’ll never get ahead,” students were told.
Now students need to think long and hard if the income they’ll earn from the career they want after college is worth the price tag of the diploma.
Williams, on the other hand, should make a good living with his skills – probably better than many professions like teaching, health care, social services or public service.
Technical schools, including Aiken Technical College, work hard to develop programs to provide training for the skilled jobs in the area.
The importance of those skills, and proper training for them, is vital to our country’s future.
That’s not to diminish the benefit of a college degree. But let’s not forget the value of vocational education, and let’s make sure we celebrate it.