The key to Baltimore population growth: vocational training

January 11, 2012

I'd love to see Baltimore grow, and if immigrants are the answer that's fine with me, as long as they're here legally ("Immigrants key to reaching mayor's population goal," Jan. 9).

Yet no matter how hard the mayor tries to increase population, it will be meaningless unless there are good jobs. It's fine Elsa Garcia's husband found some construction work, but it doesn't sound like full-time employment to me.

Why is no one suggesting a greater emphasis on vocational training in our schools? You can import new residents, but they need to have skills if they want jobs. And without jobs, how will they benefit the city?

Baltimore is a great location for many industries — access to railroads, a world-class port, excellent infrastructure and decent weather. However, without a skilled (or semi-skilled) workforce, who'd want to set up shop here?

It's time to reexamine the value of vocational schools as a way to grow a valuable citizenry. Just setting out the welcome mat is not enough. Placing a greater emphasis on occupational training in high school would be a great way to start. People need jobs and jobs require skills. Couldn't the city and the various labor unions get together on a project like this?

I spent a good part of last summer petitioning to save the Baltimore International (Culinary) College, now part of Stratford University. One of the important talking points was that upon graduation, students had an excellent chance of finding a good job. We need more schools like this — places that offer training for realistic careers.

Academic learning is fine, but in today's economy everyone needs a marketable skill. Also, once word is out that Baltimore is promoting vocational education and striving to create a viable work force, I'll bet industries from all over will take notice.

R. Heid, Baltimore

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