The way the design thinking process works is that the end user is put in mind first and it also involves the participation of both the designers (students) and the customer. This collaboration and gathering of information are highly coveted qualities that are necessary in the workplace. And, these are highly valuable creative lessons that allow students to think about the end use impact of their work.


Vocational education programmes have made a real difference in the lives of countless young people nationwide; they build self-confidence and leadership skills by allowing students to utilise their unique gifts and talents. – Conrad Burns.

During my research while visiting STEM centres across the United States, seeking best practices and learning about knowledge creation and distillation, dissemination of ideas and end-user adoption, and implementation of ideas, one of the key take-aways for me was how important vocational training would be for the future success of students. Acquiring experience in vocational trades could lead to future success; and technical careers, along with healthcare, will account for the majority of jobs across the globe.

There is a growing demand for students who have no plan to go to college, as there are students who are interested in vocational training due to their curiosity about designing, problem-solving and producing. Some folks think that vocational training is not about creativity, whereas it actually promotes creative thinking because technical education equips students with myriads of skills.

In enabling students have the freedom to harness their creative abilities through technical projects, they develop highly desired 21st-century skills, including competence and ingenuity, and the aptitude for collaboration.

The various benefits for students that I observed were:

(1) They learn that there is more than one way to get the job done;

(2) They learn to research and work towards the ultimate goal of pleasing the end user, and utilise creativity and research in finding resourceful ways of meeting the end users’ needs. I saw students at various STEM centres display this through their work – taking ordinary designs and customising them in a way that benefits their end users, making their skillsets more marketable, and ultimately more lucrative. The way the design thinking process works is that the end user is put in mind first and it also involves the participation of both the designers (students) and the customer. This collaboration and gathering of information are highly coveted qualities that are necessary in the workplace. And, these are highly valuable creative lessons that allow students to think about the end use impact of their work.

(3) Students interpret mistakes as crucial to the creative process: This inspires students to make mistakes so they can learn to work through hardship as well. Students must learn to overcome challenges by designing creative processes and troubleshooting problems more effectively, realising that there are multiple solutions to the same problem.

(4) Students use their imagination to lay the groundwork for long-term goals: When students are engaged in plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, and masonry, including their own distinctive style to the trade can help differentiate their abilities and prepare them for ground-breaking success. This is eventually if our students, after taking vocational classes, decide that they want to start their own business or promote their matchless style of work in the future.

Our goals are to build enthusiastic, inventive and resourceful thinkers. We want to confidently impact humanity as a whole.

Adetola Salau, Carismalife4U@gmail.com, an advocate of STEM education, public speaker, author, and social entrepreneur, is passionate about education reform.