Teacher Mike Oliveiria helps students Cory Manchester, left, and Nick Parente determine a measurement on a piece of metal cut in a CNC machine in Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School’s machine shop. Herald News Photo | Dave Souza
FALL RIVER - As the job market changes, so does Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School.
With a need to meet market demands, Diman leaders must be on the cutting edge of what employers are looking for in potential employees. They must ensure not only that they have the right programs in place, but also that the curriculum in those programs matches what is being used in local businesses.
“The market really drives what we do,” Vocational Coordinator Thomas Aubin said. “The programs have to meet the benchmarks to remain viable and if a program doesn’t have a certain viability then they can be phased out.”
Meeting those needs means a constant review of computer software to ensure the school has the latest updates and that students are using the proper technology, such as in the office technology program where computer programs can change on an annual basis. Or it can mean having the right equipment in place as technological advances lead to improvements, such as in the auto body shop where cleaner technology has changed the industry. At times, it means changing the direction of the program’s goals to meet current demands, such as in the machine tool technology shop where mass production is becoming the norm.
Aubin said giving students an education in the job market’s most current technology is important because it will give them the foundation for future employment success.
“We don’t want to just create jobs for students, we want to create jobs that are career oriented,” Aubin said.
Making sure the school is providing the latest and greatest, however, comes with challenges.
Aubin pointed to the limited space on Diman’s Stonehaven Road campus, which only permits the school to operate as many programs as it can hold. Then, of course, there is the cost associated with regularly updating computer software or equipment.
“Just trying to keep up with the technology is becoming phenomenally expensive,” Aubin said.
To also ensure that students are using the best technology, Aubin noted that shop instructors must be trained to teach students, which means additional professional development.
“Our vocational professional development has to keep the staff current in their industry,” Aubin said. “It’s amazing that in three years it can become obsolete without the proper training.”
As Diman officials have attempted to ensure they are offering the most relevant programs, Aubin noted the phasing out of the painting and decorating shop with programs such as office technology replacing them. He noted that other programs, such as dentistry, electronics and facilities management, have evolved to reflect the industries that students could potentially enter after graduation.
“We’re taking existing programs that are successful and trying to change as the industry changes,” Aubin said. “For instance, cars today have over 200 computer components, so the term ‘grease monkey’ is a bit antiquated.”