I AM CTE! My entire life has been involved in and around Career and Technical Education – from high school to college to teaching to editorial publishing to sales to management to consultant to assessment. I have lived and breathed CTE for decades. Why? Because I believe in it; because I see how it changes people’s lives.
Research shows CTE students have a higher graduation rate from high school, a lower dropout and absentee rate, and higher average GPA with at least one accelerated course than non-CTE students. Why? Because CTE programs provide value and value helps to provide goals. Proper goals provide the students with direction and motivation; and motivation leads to action and improves outcomes.
We want to prepare students for College and Career. I believe it should be flipped: prepare students for Career and College. Why? Because all students, whether they go on to post-secondary education or straight into the workforce, they need to be career ready (sooner or later). ALL students, no matter what their goals, ambitions, plans for the future may hold – should be required to enroll in at least one or more CTE courses during their middle school and/or high school years.
Who teaches soft/professional skills? Science? Technology? Engineering? Math? Personal finance? Research? Problem solving? Decision making? Business? Marketing? Management? Entrepreneurship? Finance? CTE programs – that is who! And that is just to name a few areas. Ask any CTE teacher why they do what they do – why they teach in CTE. They will tell you, just as I have, that they believe in what they are doing. They see the value. They see their students succeed – whether they move straight into a job for which they have been trained or enroll in some sort of post-secondary education. CTE educators will tell you their programs not only prepare students for high-demand careers, but also for life. CTE prepares students to be productive members of society in the 21st century. CTE teaches students the academic and technical skills necessary for high-demand careers and makes learning relevant! CTE educators believe in what they do and go the extra mile for their students. Why? Because they know they make a difference!
What do business leaders want in prospective employees? Knowledge and skills. The more knowledge and skills you bring to the table, the less cost and training it will be for the employer. It will take less time (and expense) to get you up and running in a new job/career when you bring knowledge and skills to the table. So how do students quantify and enumerate the knowledge and skills they have learned? I’m not sure most know how. I guess we all need to do a better job in this area. We all need to sell ourselves – tell what we have learned and what we know. We need to talk about the skills we have and how those skills will help us be successful in work, education, and life. Most students do not know how to articulate what they have learned. Many programs across the country require an industry-recognized certification to be tied to their courses. Why? Because it shows they have achieved a higher level of proficiency in a content area and something businesses want – knowledge and skills. I’m proud to be a part of this movement in CTE because I know it makes a difference in people’s lives. That is why I am CTE!