The Stigma of the School Dropout is Sometimes Unfair

For some reason, society seems to have an issue with “dropouts” who choose a trade over completing high school.  Whilst I am not in favour of someone chosing to drop out without a legitimate Plan B, I highly respect people who make the choice to become plumbers, builders and electricians, even when it’s at the expense of finishing high school.

Australia’s Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, is right to push for the opening of trade schools in preference to virtually paying students off for completing school. School and University is not for everyone. There are teenagers much more adept at taking on a practical trade than writing essays, working through trigonometry problems and making sense of chemistry.

Paying students just to finish school (it’s the parents that get the money) achieves a lot less than it sounds. Often it doesn’t translate into higher education training and it doesn’t guarantee that there will be marked differences in the takeup of the dole.

Mr Abbott wants to investigate a return to the former Coalition Government’s scheme for technical high schools and school-based apprenticeships.

Mr Abbott declined to endorse a Labor Government election promise to pay families $4000 to help keep teenagers in school longer, saying the spending would have to be appropriately targeted.

“The other point I want to make is that it’s all very well keeping kids at school past year 10 but they’ve got to be the right kids being kept at school past year 10,” Mr Abbott told Sydney radio 2UE.

“A lot of kids would probably be better off in the long run leaving school at year 10 and getting an apprenticeship rather than staying on doing an academic or quasi-academic time at school when in the end it’s the practical trades that we need.

“I mean, one of the great initiatives of the Howard Government was to try to foster these school based apprenticeships to try to get back to a considerable extent towards, if you like, technical high schools.

“And I guess I’d want to carefully study this and make sure that the right kids are getting the money and that we really were keeping the right kids at school because if you’ve got the wrong kids at school it can end up like a glorified occupational therapy basically.”

He told reporters later: “It’s important that some kids stay at school and go on to university, it’s also important that other kids get a good technical education.”

I don’t like the “pigeonhole” mentality society seems to employ. Such thinking makes it hard for people to take different routes and make changes that are right for them. The popular opinion isn’t always the right one for the individual. All countries need active and educated members of society, but they also need good tradespeople.
School is not for everyone. If you have a passion for a trade, don’t hesitate, go for it!

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4 Responses to “The Stigma of the School Dropout is Sometimes Unfair”

  1. Carl D'Agostino Says:

    Dropping out for many teen girls as single mothers is a darn good deal. No stigma at all cashing in on the system. Food stamp card. medicaid card, section 8 housing, 100% of income tax earnings returned plus $2,500 per kid as income tax return. Split costs with live-in boyfriend(who ever it happens to be this month) – yep , better than working.

  2. John Tapscott Says:

    I agree, Michael. I think, Carl has missed your point but his is just as valid; there are those that rort the system. My son left school after 4 months in year 12. He went to a TAFE college and gained a Basic Engineering Certificate. From there he followed a boilermaking apprenticeship and now he teaches his trade at TAFE full time. I believe school should finish at Grade 10. Only those intending to follow a university course should have to go on to Grade 12. This, of course assumes that the student knows what he/she wants to do past school. For those that miss the HSC/VCE boat there is always a mature age entry provision for University. Perhaps we need a few more polytechnic institutes.

    • Michael G. Says:

      The idea you have put forward John is far too sensible to be taken up.

      I completely agree with you and commend your son for taking the steps which are right for him rather than getting sucked in to society’s misguided expectations.

  3. Stigma Towards High School Dropouts – High School Isn't For Everyone. Says:

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