Career and Technical Education is a major piece of the educational puzzle

Recently, I was asked to submit and article regarding Career and Technical Education for the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP) to be published in their web line communication newsletter.  I also thought it would be a good idea to post it on my blog.  So, here it is – enjoy!

Education throughout the United States is experiencing some very interesting and challenging times.  As we work our way through the federal and state mandates impacting our classrooms, we look for ways to solve the educational puzzle.  In order for the puzzle to be complete, each piece has to be analyzed and properly placed. I believe that Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a key piece within the educational puzzle.  When challenges arise we need to look at things from a different perspective and by doing so we are able to properly assemble the various puzzle pieces.  We need to find solutions that are not an “either/or” solution but an “and” solution. CTE provides the high level skills necessary for the 21st century workforce and integrates academics as a significant portion of the curriculum.  Serving as the 2011-2012 Michigan Teacher of the Year is truly an amazing opportunity to represent all of the outstanding educators in our great State of Michigan. I am honored and humbled to be that voice for my fellow educators and for CTE! Being the first Career and Technical Education teacher in Michigan to earn this prestigious award, has allowed me to share the fantastic opportunities that are available to our students through CTE and allow for people to see the power of the “and” solution!

As educators, we are always looking to expand our experiences as well as focus on continuous improvement. This process applies to both our personal and professional learning. Throughout this school year, I have had the opportunity to receive the best possible professional development training through my hands-on experiences as the Michigan Teacher of the Year. All of us learn through a variety of teaching methods and being a Career and Technical Education teacher, my students find success through project-based learning utilizing a hands-on approach. Many of my presentations and interviews are of the informative nature regarding CTE.  How teachers teach and students learn is changing very quickly through the use of technology in the classroom.  Career Technical Education has changed as well allowing students to experience the “rigor” and “relevance” taught throughout CTE programs.

A proclamation by Governor Rick Snyder has designated February as Career and Technical Education Month.  As we are celebrating CTE throughout the month of February, Governor Snyder states, “we join the Michigan Department of Education and the Association for Career and Technical Education to encourage both youth and adults in Michigan to learn more about career and technical education, and to recognize the significance of career and technical education ensuring that Michigan students are career and college ready.”  The above statement indicating we all need to learn more about CTE is critical.  We need to really put an emphasis on informing students and adults alike that CTE is the key to filling the “middle-skill” occupations. These jobs require employees to have more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree. One recent study from Georgetown University projects that, from 2008 to 2018, about two-thirds of the job openings in the U.S. will require at least some postsecondary education and training. Fourteen million of those job openings will be in the middle-skill occupations, filled by workers with an associate’s degree or occupational certificate.  CTE is the piece of the puzzle to provide the training required to fill these 14 million jobs in America. Informing educators, parents and students not only about these facts, but about CTE programming is imperative.  I can’t tell you how many times people have visited our technical campus and walked away saying, “Your campus is the best kept secret, I wish I would have known about it earlier.”  Now is the time to make sure viable CTE options for students are no longer kept as a secret! 

Below are the top five reasons that administrators and principals should promote and support CTE for your students:

1.  CTE-Related Jobs Are in High Demand

By 2018, the U.S. will need at least 4.7 million new workers with postsecondary certificates, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. (Carnevale, Anthony, et al, Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, 2010, p. 1)

 2.  CTE Meets Individual and Community Economic Needs

A person with an associate degree or two year credential will earn, on average, over $5,000 a year more than a person with just a high school diploma and a person with a CTE-related associate degree or credential will earn between $5,000 and $15,000 more a year than a person with a humanities or social sciences associate degree. (Jacobson, L., et al, Pathways to Boosting the Earnings of Low-Income Students by Increasing Their Educational Attainment, Gates Foundation/Hudson Institute, 2009)

 3.  CTE Engages Students and Lowers the Dropout Rate

A ratio of one CTE class for every two academic classes minimizes the risk of students dropping out of high school. (Plank, S. et al, Dropping Out of High School and the Place of Career and Technical Education, The National Centers for Career and Technical Education, 2005)

 4.  CTE Increases Student Achievement

CTE students were significantly more likely than their non-CTE counterparts to report that they had developed problem-solving, project completion, research, math, college application, work-related, communication, time management and critical thinking skills during high school. (Lekes, N., et al., Career and Technical Education Pathway Programs, Academic Performance, and the Transition to College and Career, National Research Center for CTE, 2007)

 5.    CTE is at the forefront of preparing students to be “college and  career ready.”

CTE equips students with:

  • core academic skills and the ability to apply those skills to concrete situations in order to function in the workplace and in routine daily activities
  • em­ployability skills (such as critical thinking and responsibility) that are essential in any career area
  • job-specific, technical skills related to a specific career pathway

I truly believe that Career and Technical Education, coupled with academics that are provided through CTE, is the path that we need to continue to promote, not only to move Michigan forward but to continue building our nation with a well-educated and highly-skilled workforce!

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  1. [...] if you want to hit them with a three-pronged punch, Michigan’s Teacher of the Year 2011, Paul Galbenski, summed it up this [...]

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