Skilled-Trades Education Makes a Comeback

OUSD is re-thinking vocational education training, giving it a new name and new resources to enable students to earn good wages at good blue-collar jobs.


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Vocational education long ago transitioned from useful to offensive, replaced by a college-for-all approach to end vocational education’s racial siloing effect. But something interesting has happened since those shop classes went mostly by the wayside in the ’80s and ’90s. There’s a big shortage in the working pool for skilled-trades jobs. More carpenters, electricians, welders, bricklayers, and construction workers are needed, especially for the East Bay’s construction boom.

The Oakland Unified School District has been revamping its vo-tech programs, re-branding them skilled-trades career technical education to give students other options. Anai Melendrez is one of the first Oakland high school students to take advantage of the effort. In “Back to the Future,” page 32, she and others discuss why rethinking this is useful.

If you long for useful info on Hawaii travel, that’s up this issue. I’ve never stepped foot on its sandy beaches, waded in its sparkling waters, witnessed its eerie lava flows, or laid eyes upon the magical rainforests. Those are likely on everyone’s must-do list, but our guide to Hawaii travel takes a different approach, highlighting some other things visitors can do beyond cocktails and luaus. The Aloha State offers many surprises, among them fine art museums, technological innovations, and haute couture. Getting to Hawaii from the East Bay couldn’t be easier, with Alaska, Hawaiian, and Southwest Airlines flying there regularly and often. For those longing for sun, surf, and volcanoes, all those are covered, too, in “Go Intrinsically Hawaiian,” page 23.

Closer to home, there are a few food fads and flavors capturing our attention: the rise of Native-American ingredients and dishes; recognition of pop-up restaurants as a pathway to permanence; and an uptick in Japanese cuisine exploration. Oaklander and Native American Crystal Wahpepah grew up wondering why there were no restaurants celebrating her native foods, which motivated her to become the indigenous chef she is today with her own catering company. Alameda county supervisors are on the cusp of considering health regulations that would solidify the pop-up restaurant practices. And the likes of fresh handmade soba noodles, delicate craft sake, and steaming bowls of painstakingly complex ramen are earning faithful followers who don’t mind long lines from Berkeley to West Oakland.

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