Wednesday| May 23 2018
Not Everyone Should Go to College
Vocational education won’t succeed so long as society consigns it to second-class status.
Nobody knows what a community college is,” President Trump said last month in Michigan. “We’re going to start using—and we had this—vocational schools.” Conflating community colleges with vocational schools is a mistake, though an understandable one. Everyone talks about better vocational programs for students who will not complete college, but prescriptions invariably focus on options for after high-school graduation.
Waiting until students are college age is too late. Elevating vocational education, and prioritizing its students, must begin with a substantial reshaping of American high schools. Vocational education will not succeed so long as culture and public policy consign it to second-class status—a dumping ground for students who interfere with what school districts consider their real mission, college prep.
But that mission ends in failure for most American students. Only 46% of Americans 25 to 29 have  attained  even an associate degree. Why do we design our high schools for college completers, if fewer than half of students complete college?
The problem is that schools refuse to track—to separate high-school students into different educational programs that target different outcomes. The impulse is an egalitarian one, but the insistence on treating everyone equally in high school harms students for whom the college track is not appropriate. It deprives them of schooling that could be more valuable and abandons them after graduation ill-prepared for work.
Would a noncollege track prevent some students from achieving their full academic potential? Perhaps. But the risk pales in comparison to the problem of today, when everyone is placed on a track that we know is wrong for most. A well-designed tracking system could mitigate that risk by leaving the choice to students and parents, by providing offramps from one track to the other, and by ensuring that the noncollege track is not undesirable to begin with.
How could a noncollege track be made more attractive? For starters, it could receive comparable resources. Schools lavish tens of thousands of public dollars on students who pursue college, while others, trying to find their own footing in life after leaving high school, get nothing at all. The Trump administration’s proposal to let students use Pell Grants for different forms of postsecondary training is a good start. But students on a vocational track shouldn’t have to wait until after high school for such resources.
A strong noncollege track would also allow employers to play a much larger role. School hours can be working hours—what Mr. Trump has called “earn as you learn.” But vocational students need access to this in high school if that is when their career preparation should begin. 
Imagine if traditional high-school academics were compressed. Part of 11th grade would emphasize career selection and readiness, and 12th grade would mark the start of a subsidized internship or apprenticeship. Such a student could have significant work experience, certified skills, and $40,000 in the bank—before being ol d enough to drink. And that’s for the same cost as what Americans spend on the typical debt-laden college dropout.
With financial viability would also come cultural acceptance. The choice would come to seem normal; employers would know what to expect. Across the other developed economies of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, between 40% and 70% of secondary-school students  pursue  a vocational track. In Germany, business leaders often begin their careers in apprenticeships.
The current system is not really trackless; it offers a single track, tailored toward those most likely to succeed anyway. If there is to be only one track, why not switch the default? Design the local high school for the needs of the median student, who won’t complete even community college. Those aiming for college could enroll in an after-school enrichment program three towns over.
If that’s how “no tracking” looked, many of tracking’s opponents would probably come around.
Mr. Cass is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the forthcoming book “The Once and Future Worker.” Source: Wall Street Journal
No surprise: Bechtel No. 1 on ENR 2018 Top 400 contractors list
( * Bechtel was named PTT Global Ethane Cracker Contractor)
Engineering News-Record Thursday revealed its  2018 list of the Top 400 U.S.-based contractors, and there were few surprises. The ranking, based on 2017 gross construction revenue, saw Bechtel once again occupy the top spot, and Fluor Corp. and Turner Corp. repeating their No. 2 and No. 3 showings, respectively. It was the 20th consecutive year that Bechtel has been No. 1.
There were, however, some minor shifts within the top 10. AECOM, Kiewit, Skanska and PCL Construction, all with strong civil divisions as well as commercial operations, each moved up one place in the ranking to Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7, respectively. Read More...
Shell posts production operator jobs for Potter Township cracker  
Shell has for the first time posted jobs for production operators at its Beaver County petrochemical plant, which is under construction in Potter Township.
The company's job listing for production operator was updated Monday and is being listed until June 3. Production operators monitor and control equipment at the ethane cracker, as well as work in other operations there,  according to the job description . The listing does not say how many plant operators Shell is planning to hire nor when they will begin. Construction of the plant will be complete around 2020, and then there will be a commissioning process, common in all manufacturing plants to varying degrees. Read More...
A Business Roadmap to Depreciation Deductions Under Tax Reform
New Tax Rule Allows Used Property to Qualify
Bonus depreciation allows an immediate first year deduction on a percentage of eligible business property. Thanks to a taxpayer-friendly provision included in the recently enacted tax reform package, bonus depreciation has been expanded to 100% for qualified property placed into service after Sept. 27, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2023. And, for the first time, bonus depreciation also applies to used property – as long as it is new to the taxpayer – a break from the past practice of qualifying only “original use” property. Read More...
Under the spotlight: Top construction trends
Technology is having a profound impact on the construction industry as it embraces innovative and disruptive technologies that were once thought to be science-fiction. Here we take a look at the trends shaping the industry and how companies are staying on top by adopting the latest cutting-edge techniques
1.Virtual Reality
Virtual reality was initially created as an instrument to make video games more immersive but, as the technology has developed, it’s branched into several other sectors, namely that of the construction industry.

VR is changing the way clients interact with a project , making it easier to collaborate and communicate on all stages of a development. It can also be used to put trainee construction workers in realistic situations.  VR allows the review process to become far more streamlined , avoiding the issues related to traditional blueprint methods which can become time-consuming. Read More.. .
College majors with the highest jobless rates
As graduation season comes into full swing, a new study shows which college major have the smallest payoffs in terms of landing jobs.
While college graduates are entering the job market with a  10-year low unemployment rate  of 3.9 percent, some jobs still will be harder to get. 
Credit Sesame  wanted to see how unemployment statistics vary by college major. Researchers analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data and community surveys compiled by the New York Federal Reserve.

Most of the majors with higher unemployment rates were in the humanities, social sciences and fine arts.
Mass media was listed as No. 1, with an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent. It includes people employed in television, radio, websites, newspapers and advertising — all industries undergoing sea changes in their business models. Almost two-thirds of the mass media graduates were either unemployed or underemployed, according to the data. Read More...

On June 8, 2018, the Business Liability Protection Act a.k.a. the “Parking Lot Bill” or the “Gun Bill” goes into effect in West Virginia, restricting an employer’s right to manage its employees and its workplace. 

On May 31st, Chris Slaughter and Allison Williams will discuss:
  • What the Act means for West Virginia employers
  • Under what circumstances can employees bring guns to work?
  • What is considered a “parking lot” under the new Act?
  • How does the Act impact employees who travel off-site in private vehicles to perform their work?
  • How does the Act impact company vehicles?
  • How does the Act impact your ability to conduct searches of employee vehicles?
  • What changes must you make to your employee handbooks/policies?
  • What protection does the new Act provide employers from workplace violence?
  • What happens if I refuse to follow the Act?

Webcast Time:
Noon - 1:00pm Eastern
11:00am - Noon Central
10:00am - 11:00am Mountain
9:00am - 10:00am Pacific

Registration will close at 10:00am Eastern, May 31, 2018. 

OVCEC member Surburban Extended Stay Hotels is offering a discount to OVCEC Members. Below is a 10% discount link that OVCEC members can receive at our (4) Suburban Suites locations below: