Providing Opportunity through CTE
In teaching the next generations of young workers, career and technical education (CTE) programs stand out as innovative, adaptable and productive methods of turning student aspirations into tangible successes. According to the Association for Career and Technical Education, 94% of all high school students regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic background are enrolled into at least one CTE course. CTE covers dozens of career pathways including STEM, fine arts and a wide selection of high-skill, high-wage in demand jobs. These programs empower today’s youth by providing technical, academic and employability skills to prepare them to pursue further higher education, postsecondary training or enter immediately into a career field.
CTE is offered at many education levels from middle school and high school to postsecondary institutions including two-year and four-year colleges. Associate degrees (two-year degree plans) and technical education programs often give students equal or better levels of success and security than a degree from a four-year university, making it important to note that four-year degree plans are no longer necessary to succeed and prepare for a profession. While both public and private institutions provide a wealth of resources for students, CTE programs provide reliable alternatives to college as a modern and inclusive opportunity for students to actively pursue their interests and kick start their careers early on.
CTE students learn in an environment that sets them up with practical hands-on experience in situations such as how to treat a patient in a hospital, how to properly weld a piece of metal and how to be safe when working with agricultural machinery. They are taught how to use equipment properly, keep themselves and others safe in a professional manner, communicate and interact in a work environment, and taught what their rights and responsibilities are in the workplace. Often, their instructors have personal knowledge and experience, having had a career in the industry prior to returning to the classroom to educate young minds.
Frequently, CTE programs incorporate opportunities for students to earn certifications, credentials and secure internships, apprenticeships and employment prior to their graduation. The ability to apply these skills in real world settings gives students applicable experience to build their resumes and increase their employability. And with the range of options in different CTE programs, from training time to cost of the programs, students from all walks of life are able to succeed, especially those who necessitate more flexible schedules.
Students are leaving CTE programs with a clearer vision for their careers and fewer questions on how to get there. Whether CTE is in the classroom or on a worksite, the programs consistently teach students vital lessons as well as give them intimate interaction with a career pathway all while in a supportive educational environment. Thank you to all our educators and educational institutions who, in providing CTE programs, ensure that students today are aware of and equipped with vital skills as they navigate the endless possibilities of careers they are able to pursue and, above all, that they will enter those careers prepared and ready to make a difference.