I’ve worked in the advanced manufacturing industry for over 35 years and have been married to a teacher for over 20 years. During my career, I have visited over four hundred companies, big and small. As early as the mid 1990’s, these companies started to worry and I knew why…
Over the past two decades, our schools have systematically eliminated hands-on shop and vocational trades classes. Yes, it was partly due to shrinking budgets and retiring shop teachers. But mainly it was beliefs such as; “Everyone should go to college/university” or “Those are dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs nobody wants to do” or “We don’t make things in America anymore.” I, and millions of others, know that these are all untruths. But our educational system says it’s go to college or you will be a failure. And that is wrong! Because great jobs are still there for those with modern hands-on maker skills!
From the early 1900s to the 1980s we had shop classes. These classes were for makers, creative students, outside the box thinkers, and for many of us, the reason we stayed in school. They were classes for those who wanted to explore using their hands and their minds. This was where many young adults learned timeless skills and found that they love tinkering, exploring, taking things apart, and creating new ideas. Shop classes were the starting point for millions of “makers” who went on to success in the world of manufacturing and hundreds of other hands-on careers.
Then in the mid 1990s, our schools started eliminating these critical classes. These were the classes where students developed mindsets and skills necessary to drive innovation. Many fear that once this country loses its ability to make and build things, we will have lost what made America so successful. Edison, Franklin, Wright Brothers, Harley & Davidson, Jobs & Wozniak (Apple), Hewlett & Packard (HP), and millions of others learned hands-on skills while growing up. Today, these learning opportunities are almost non-existent.
Companies also used to have apprenticeships and in-house training programs. Most small to mid-size companies no longer have the time or resources to train people in fundamental hands-on skills. So now, there is a vast divide between the companies that need a skilled workforce and places for people to obtain these skills. Especially today, where manufacturing is not just hammers and screwdrivers. It’s advanced technologies, wearables, robotics, automation, composites, and thousands of other blue-tech careers.
This lack of teaching hands-on skills has led to the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Gap. A serious and growing shortage of people skilled in these maker subjects. As much as we hope, regular schools will not be able to bring back these programs. The equipment costs, finding instructors, developing an ever changing curriculum, the complexity of the facilities, and having to replicate this for every school is just not feasible. Over a decade ago, I saw this coming and thought about how to solve the problem…
Why not create a vocational academy and bring all the maker students together? Students from schools, from non-profits, and from companies. A central place where ANYONE could discover the world of making things and learn fundamental skills. A place to for those wanting to learn maker skills AND help fulfill the workforce needs of manufacturing/engineering companies.
For me, this is personal. Because I am a direct product of high school shop classes. With virtually no college or formal trade school education, the skills I learned in those high school classes put me on an extraordinary career path. I have created amazing products, learned dozens of skills, met the most incredible people, became a Master Maker, and an entrepreneur.
But I’m not unique. I strongly believe that a third of all people are natural born makers and should have the same opportunities I did. So I started with a clean sheet of paper, created a business plan, and after years of preparation, Vocademy opened its doors in October of 2013. Today, we teach real hands-on skills, in a dozen subjects, to anyone over the age of fourteen. Not just traditional skills, but also the latest advanced manufacturing techniques listed here.
Today we partner with schools and other educational organizations to prepare people of all ages for the workforce of the future. We partner with companies to upskill and train their new hires and current employees. We work with non-profits to help train veterans, foster kids, and others who are underserved in our community. And we offer a unique Gap Year type program [Maker Skills Academy] not available anywhere else. Additionally, by not requiring transcripts, prerequisites, or any GPA, we have achieved our goal of being truly open to everyone.
PS: If you think a Vocademy would benefit your community or you would like to partner with us to change lives, I’d be happy to have a conversation.
WHAT IS VOCADEMY
- We are a one-of-a-kind vocational academy located in Riverside California.
- We teach fundamental hands-on skills in over a dozen traditional and advanced manufacturing subjects.
- We offer courses during the day and evenings to suit the needs of our clients and students.
- We empower people with the skills necessary to get the career they want, for entreprenurship, or for personal enrichment.
We give people the skills that make them valuable to the world.
IS VOCADEMY A TRADE SCHOOL OR COLLEGE
- Unlike a trade school that focuses on one subject deeply, we focus on teaching a breadth of different subjects to a fundamental level. We believe that starting out knowing several skillsets is more valuable today then diving deep into just one. Before commiting to the cost and time commitment of a trade school, we suggest Vocademy courses to make sure it is the path you wish to take. We don’t compete with trade schools. We believe that for some of our students, they are the perfect next step.
- We know that for many, college is not their next step. That is why we offer courses in practical skills that can be learned in a matter of weeks.months, and not years. We’re not a substitute for college, we’re a valid alternative for those looking for job skills or a different path. Plus, Vocademy courses can be taken before, after, or during college/university studies.
We are the ideal step before entering trade schools.
WHO DOES VOCADEMY SERVE?
- Individuals. Vocademy is open to everyone over the age of 14 and there are no transcripts, exams, or GPA requirements. Our evening classes make learning at Vocademy much more practical. We welcome college students, inventors, hobbyists, those looking to switch or enhance their careers, and more.
- Educational clients. School Districts, Charter Schools, and other educational institutions send us their students. We are a tremendous retention tool for keeping young adults in school and for teaching valuable life / career skills. Schools also send us teachers looking to gain these skills for use in the classroom and for CTE credentials.
- Corporate clients. Companies send us new hires for fundamental skills learning. They also send existing employees to be upskilled in new technologies or additional skillsets. Many companies call us looking for newly skilled students. We are becoming the pipeline to good job opportunities.
- Organizational clients. We work closely with many non-profits who work to improve lives, such as: veterans groups, foster organizations, and many others. The partnership is simple. These organizations raise the funding to train the people and they partner with us to do the training.
- Government clients. Military bases and government entities send us employees to gain new skills.
Only in Vocademy can such a diverse body of students learn together.
IS VOCADEMY ACCREDITED?
- We are not sanctioned or approved by any government or post-secondary educational entity. We do not issue degrees or diplomas.
- We teach these in-demand skills for the benefit of the student. What they do with these skills is up to them.
- We believe that in the world of hands-on skills, it’s not the piece of paper; it’s the skills you can demonstrate and the projects you have created.
- We reward our students with Vocademy Certificates of Completion for the programs we offer.
In the world of making things, it’s about the skills not the paper.
DOES VOCADEMY OFFER JOB PLACEMENT?
- We do not offer job placement, nor do we guarantee anyone a career.
- It is up to the student to demonstrate their skills and work examples to potential employers.
- What we do offer are introductions to companies looking to hire and job finding resources.
We will teach you many valuable skills; what you do with them is up to you.
Ready to take action? We are here to help! Please contact us…
AN IDEAL ENVIRONMENT FOR LEARNING
- 15,000+ Square foot, climate controlled facility.
- Office type environment (not industrial or warehouse)
- Located near the 60/215/91 interchange in Riverside.
- Safe, modern and inviting workspace.
- Everyone fourteen and older is welcome.
3D PRINTING LAB
Six Industrial 3D Printers & CAD PCs
Classrooms with computers & LCD display panels
Large Worktables, Hands & Power Tools, Measuring Tools, Project Storage, Student Lockers, & DIY Library.
Electronics benches with all equipment. Oscilloscopes, DMMs, Power Supplies, & Soldering Stations.
Stomp Shears, Hydraulic Press, Bandsaw, Grinders, Tube Bender, Sheet metal Brakes, & Tube Notchers.
GARAGE / LARGE PROJECTS LAB
Bead Blaster, Workbenches, & Panel Saw.
MACHINE SHOP & CNC MACHINING LAB
Manual Knee Mill, Manual Tool Room Lathe, ProtoTRAK CNC Mill, ProtoTRAK CNC Lathe, Precision Tools.
PLASTICS & COMPOSITES LAB
Industrial Vacuformer. Belt/Disc plastics sander.
SEWING & TEXTILES LAB
Sewing machines (domestic and industrial), Sergers, Work Tables, & Ironing Boards.
Six Welding Stations, Six Miller MIG Welders, Plasma Cutter, Bandsaw, Chop Saws, & Fabrication Table.
Table Saw, Wood Lathes, Joiner, Sanders, Band Saws, Drill Press, Industrial Planer, & Routers.
PARTNERING WITH VOCADEMY HAS TREMENDOUS BENEFITS
- Branding. We are much more accessible to schools, companies and the community.
- Showroom. We are a living showroom and a demo center for our partner’s technology.
- Creating Users. We create new well trained users and fans of your brand of product.
- Exposure. Over 3,000 people have visited Vocademy last few years and we have tours almost daily
- Promotion. We have our partner’s promo materials in our facility, co-marketing campaigns, and at events.
- Training. We provide training on your brand of equipment, products and/or materials. We create lifelong users.
- Curriculum. Our classes are written around the technology, tools, and equipment used in our facility.
- Marketing. We continue to have local and national press and Internet exposure on a regular basis.
- Market Share. We clearly help expand market share in industry, education, and the local community.
- Growth. You grow with us to dozens of locations and into smaller “Powered By Vocademy” makerspaces.
- Connections. We are connected to school districts, the manufacturing industry, colleges, and universities.
FULL-SIZE LOCATIONS & HELPING OTHERS CREATE MAKERSPACES
Vocademy is a one-of-a-kind vocational academy. Our “breadth over depth fundamental skills” concept is ideal for the ever-changing advanced manufacturing workforce of the future. Teaching a multitude of skills is the way we can help people become future-proof. We also believe that every city and town can benefit from the skills training we offer. Being a lean and efficient small business, we have created the operating systems and the expertise to duplicate Vocademy in any community.
WHY OUR MODEL WORKS
A successful business either solves a problem (the lack of hands-on skills learning) or addresses a critical need (skilled people needed for our Advanced Manufacturing workforce, engineering/design jobs, and other “maker” careers). Vocademy solves both problems and offers additional benefits to a community. We teach people the critical hands-on skills they need and we provide a place for those students to also practice their skills. The failure of the educational system over the last 20 years has left a large segment of our society without these critical personal and professional skills. Vocademy can fill the need for hundreds of thousands of people, create innovators, and help solve the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Gap.
WHY WE ARE DIFFERENT
It’s not just the building or the machines. It is the all-inclusive culture, the breadth of skills we teach, our exclusive curriculum and programs, and the very low barriers to entry. Our student body is 40% women, our classes are for anyone over 14, and our clients as diverse as the world. In addition, our environment is welcoming, safe, and inspirational. We are that place where companies find employees and where students connect to opportunities. We are the reason students stay in school. We are the hub of innovation in a community. We are the gathering place for innovators, nerds, tinkerers, & makers. We are the place where anyone can go and become a part of the maker movement. We are the place where peoples’ lives can change.
NATIONWIDE EXPANSION PLANS
Our plans are to expand to many full size Vocademy locations throughout the country and help others create makerspaces of their own. We consider locations based on strategic areas to draw from schools, universities, industry, and large local populations. The ideal site for any future location is a former retail space with plenty of parking, safety, and proximity to other retail amenities. Vocademy is a tremendous benefit to local schools, businesses, organizations, economic development, and many others in a community. We are a scale-able company with tremendous potential for growth and profitability.
MAKERSPACES POWERED BY VOCADEMY
We are makerspace experts. For those that want to create a space of their own, we can provide design consulting, equipment resources, instructor training, and complete curriculum. Our “Powered By Vocademy” makerspace consulting service is available to educational and private organizations.
HELPING US GROW
We welcome conversations with those that want to bring Vocademy to their community. We are actively looking for industry, organizational, and educational partners. We have the ability to duplicate our business model across the USA. Each location will be run as an engineered (turn-key) system, based on our Vocademy Operating System. Every aspect of the business is planned, orchestrated, and designed for sustainability, profitability and growth. Business plan and financial information available for qualified individuals or entities. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us.