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Vocational Programs Improve Life & Career Outcomes

August 18th

How Drone Forward uses STEM-based vocational programs to improve the lives of at risk youth.

“We don’t sell people devices, we sell them better versions of themselves”. - Steve Jobs

Drone Forward builds educational programs to upskill at-risk youth by partnering with local businesses to address their project based needs. By designing curriculum around drone piloting and programming, both students and businesses benefit. Drone Forward builds better futures using these vocational programs with STEM based curriculum to develop transferable skills that lead to better career outcomes.

Why are vocational programs good opportunities?

There is a general misalignment of the cost of college for the value received.

A 4 year college can cost between $50,000 to $100,000 and According to the Department of Education, it takes an average of 20 years to pay off student loans. Many students are turning to families for financial support and impacting their parents retirements. Those that do not have that option must shoulder this financial burden for nearly 25% of their lives.

At this point, there is increasing evidence that 1 in 5 (pg. 3) young Americans may choose to opt out of college completely. The reason? A change in how society credentials our workforce, they seek competencies over college degrees.There is increasing data that indicates students would opt for alternative educational paths given the increasing mindset that degrees are less important (pg. 15) for employment outcomes.

It’s also becoming common for highschool students to delay college education as they seek to learn about the professional world during gap years. Many opt to skip school altogether.

Whether delaying college or skipping it altogether, pursuing vocational programs are important options for non-college bound individuals.

It’s Not Just a Gap Year, High School Students Skip College

In 2019 the US Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates nearly 45% of High School graduates did not attend college. The unemployment rate for those that did not attend college was 18%. Additionally, around 500,000 people dropped out of highschool in that same time period. Nearly 70% are not active in the labor force. This participation rate is much lower than graduates that were enrolled in college.

Students that don’t attend college:

  • Typically work minimum wage jobs

  • Live paycheck to paycheck which has been shown to negatively impact quality of life

  • Have challenges with debt and credit scores

  • Have higher rates of disease from high stress and poor diet

  • Are limited in their career choices

Vocational career paths lead to considerably higher quality of life than non-college standardized paths. These opportunities are typically in the plumbing, construction and electricity fields.

Whether college is the path or not, the highest paying jobs typically come from STEM fields. At Drone Forward, we believe that High School educated people are capable of these types of roles given the proper training.

What are Vocational Programs?

Vocational programs are professional development institutes that teach technical skills with real world applications. Like an apprenticeship, students within vocational programs partner with businesses to perform real world projects and learn skills in the field. While

apprenticeship programs focus on a mentor/mentee relationship, vocational programs are curriculum based and focus on specific skill development.

Drone Forward’s Vocational Curriculum

Our STEM based education program uses robotic drones as a fun and educational pathway to creating better futures for students.

Drone Forward:

  • Provides fun and engaging extra curricular activities

  • Builds transferable skill sets

  • Provides relationship building workshops and opportunities to develop career paths

  • Develops community building programs

  • Creates realistic and debt free paths forward

Building Transferable Skills for Professional Development

Drone Forward's workshops teach students fundamental drone flying skills while providing an overview of drone-based career opportunities. Our workshops are unique in that our objective is to empower children to seek ways to take drone technology further and explore entrepreneurial opportunities.

Our curriculum also provides hands on software experience. Our drones are programmed by students to support client partner needs. As an example, students will be trained to use the python programming language.

Through this hands on training, they will experience how to use the programming language syntax, commonly used python modules, and develop an understanding of bigger picture applications. Students will experience troubleshooting code, working to develop software in team settings and perform basic database administration. They will also practice presenting technical specifications to non-technical managers.

Why does this matter? Because the average entry level python developer job pays $80,000 per year.

Are you a teacher, school administrator or consultant that wants to improve life and career outcomes for at risk youth? Contact us at to learn more about how we can help your students.

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