Only one thing is certain in technical education. That absolute certainty is change. If career and technical education institutions are going to prepare students for tomorrow's jobs, they must adapt and change with the fast pace of technology.
The old method of learning a trade from the "old school" or traditional ways will leave tomorrow's employees behind. For many years a lot of trades could be copied and repeated over and over. For example, in auto body repair, the same methods were used for years to straighten damaged metal back to its original shape. Then lacquer paint consisting of only a few basic colors, were used to paint the vehicle back to its original color. While some of the old techniques are still very effective, the industry has made major changes. Plastic body fillers were introduced to take the place of lead filler; MIG welders took the place of oxyacetylene welding and brazing, enamel replace lacquer paints, and urethane replace enamel paints. These are slight changes that could simply be called improved methods. However, in the last 15 to 20 years we have plastic parts, aluminum parts, unibody construction in addition to full frame vehicles, computerized cars with sensors requiring the technician to be more knowledgeable about electrical systems, air bags, base coat clear coat finishes, three stage factory finishes, hybrid cars. And now, they even have cars that will tell you where to turn or if your lost, and even parallel park for you. This requires much more knowledge, skills and the ability to comprehend all the different repair methods to properly repair the vehicle to pre-accidental condition. It’s easy to figure out that a hammer and dolly are not going to fix all the repairs needed these days. Who knows what the body repair business will look like in twenty years from now. It’s clear the "just like learning how to ride a bike" concept will not work for current and future technical education institutions. If you step out of the industry for a long period of time, you're not going to be able to jump back in and continue where you left off. How busy would a carburetor specialist be in a dealership; or how effective would an executive assistant be using only a typewriter in today’s working world?
The future is calling for more diversified technicians than ever before. If we are going to prepare students for a technical career we must teach them the many skills required, but more importantly we must teach them how to learn to learn, because the fast paced changes are a never ending process.