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Published: March 1, 2011

Alternative education

In general, a broad spectrum of nontraditional teaching programs involving nonacademic curricula in preparation for jobs not requiring four-year college degrees or even, in rare cases, a high school diploma. Despite a national obsession with attending four-year colleges, almost 70% of all the jobs in the United States require only alternative education, and only about 30% require a four-year college degree or more. Technical, sales and administrative support jobs not requiring a four-year college degree account for 28.5% of all jobs, while precision production, craft and personnel jobs account for 13%.
Almost 37% of all jobs are filled by machine operators, fabricators, assemblers, inspectors, transportation workers, handlers, equipment cleaners, laborers, protective service workers, civil service workers (including fire fighters and police officers), household and hospitality workers, agricultural workers in farming, forestry and fishing, and workers in other service occupations. Training for all such jobs is available from one or more of the twelve basic sources of alternative education: comprehensive public high school vocational programs; specialized vocational/technical (vo-tech) public high schools; special-talent “magnet” high schools; cooperative education programs at high schools and colleges; “two-plus-two” techprep programs; two-year community colleges; technical institutes; private, not-for-profit junior (two-year) colleges; private, for-profit (proprietary) trade schools; nondegree courses and programs at public and private four-year colleges and universities; employer/union apprenticeship programs; and employer-sponsored training programs. (See individual entries for detailed descriptions of each type of alternative education.)
Although usually used to refer to VOCATIONAL EDUCATION, alternative education can sometimes refer to nontraditional schooling unrelated to practical training—for example, nontraditional instruction for students with behavioral, emotional, physical or intellectual problems.