Like many things, college used to be a lot more affordable in the ‘good ol’ days.’ It’s getting increasingly expensive and less attainable for many. Luckily for would-be students, there’s another option: vocational programs. And vocational support is rising.
Vocational programs give learners the skills they need for a specific job. These are usually trades, like carpentry, plumbing, or mechanics. That said, vocational programs have progressed a lot in the last 20 years, evolving and adapting to our rapidly changing world. Specific and advanced areas, like culinary arts, fashion design, STEM, and medical technology are now becoming widely available.
Whatever a facility is teaching, it’s the kind of thing that moves someone from high school along their career path quickly, without incurring the massive debt of your typical college degree. What’s more, a lot of these jobs are highly in demand and pay accordingly. This means there are a lot of students out there who want vocational training. Educational facilities that want to take advantage of this boom should be ready.
A liberal arts college is a different kind of facility from a vocational support or trade school. Vocational programming requires the right kind of space, outfitted with the right equipment and technology to teach people the skills they need. While other higher education facilities can be more multi-use, a vocational program, much like its subject matter, is specific.
Whether building an all-new vocational programming space or retrofitting an existing facility, read on to make sure your facility can provide vocational support.
While all educational architecture requires planning to succeed, in vocational support projects input from stakeholders is all the more important. Educators and administrators understand what, exactly, school spaces will be used for, and can inform architects of the specifics. There may be industry standards or school security protocols at play, which will inform the design choices.
If students and educators are working with large equipment like vehicles or wanting to spread out with electric gear, they will need the right amount of space, with adequate surface area. Before even considering specialized equipment, lighting, and furniture, consider the suitability of the space itself. Volume is also something to consider, as many vocational spaces require higher ceilings to accommodate car lifts, construction projects, or different acoustical performance properties.
In many cases, designers need to plan for more space, not less. Auditoriums, conference rooms, and classrooms still have a role in vocational schools, but there may also be the need for heavy and light industrial areas, labs, and training rooms.
In a retrofit situation, designing for a larger space could involve repurposing a room or knocking down a few walls to create a larger area out of several small rooms.
Think about the kinds of things that will be going in and out of classrooms and other spaces. Odds are, students and staff may be bringing in items that are larger than a backpack. Being able to access and navigate the facility helps facilitate the learning process. Rooms should be versatile, without locked-in interior fixtures and arrangements.
Architects and designers will pay special attention to noise and light control when it comes to vocational support. Some trade learning needs a lot of light, be it natural or controlled. Others need more darkness and spotlighting versus overhead diffusion.
For trades that involve a lot of noise generation, sound dampening is vital. Not every student, staff member, or visitor needs to hear what is going on in a garage, for example. By insulating areas that are likely to be noisy, the rest of the facility can be used for other purposes without infringing on anyone’s ability to learn.
Many instructors find it valuable to have individually controlled temperature and lighting for each of their spaces versus something that is centrally controlled.
Yes, your facility will be well designed for the specific needs of vocational support if you follow these tips and work closely with an architect experienced in educational design. But any educational facility needs to meet certain needs across the board, whether an elementary school, college, or vocational school.
Comfort, aesthetics, accessibility, safety, and connectivity come together to create an educational facility primed for teaching the leaders of the future. Vocational support means tailoring those objectives to specific trade and vocational learning requirements.
Contact SSP to learn more, or to speak with a trusted, experienced professional architect about your vocational school’s programs. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have and put momentum behind the reinvigoration of your vocational programs.