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How All Students Benefit From CTE
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How All Students Benefit From CTE

September 23, 2019

Today’s students are the future workforce – and CTE benefits them all. 

It might sound cliche and even a grossly overused phrase, but we know it’s the truth. And as teachers, we also know it’s no secret that our students have much different career pathway options than most of us had when we were in school. The primary difference is the landscape for the type of careers has evolved. This includes the choices of post-secondary occupations that don’t always require additional education and offer a good salary.

For example, did you know that a computer programmer can make a median salary of $84,280 (2018) with anywhere from a bachelor’s degree down to certification in a programming language? Many IT companies don’t just look at education attainment anymore. They look for skills and knowledge. With this information, if we can prepare our students for industry-recognized certification exams that help them stand out to employers then we are opening the doors for students who may not be able to attend college or want to.

As educators, we need to continually consider the following questions to help guide our students in finding success:

  • How do we ensure our students have the necessary skills and knowledge being demanded by employers – and local and global economies?
  • How do our students discover their skills, strengths, and gain awareness of a variety of careers available today and in the future?
  • How do we allow students an opportunity to explore a variety of careers field before committing their time, energy, and financial resources toward them?
  • How do we help give students insights to determine if college is the right path for them, especially if what they want to do may not require it? 
  • How do our students meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving landscape of jobs? 

 

CTE Opens Doors for All Students

Just like each student is unique, their options for their future are as well.

CTE programs provide guidance and opportunities for all students regardless of the path they choose. They expose our students to:

  • the job market and what careers are available, 
  • how much education is needed for different career fields, 
  • how much they could potentially make, and
  • a variety of career fields to help them find the right fit before making a financial investment.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses offer a variety of ways for our students to be successful and find a rewarding career. I like to think of each door opening a unique and different path beyond. 

Each student can choose a different door, offering them the ability to:

  • go straight into the workforce,
  • pursue an associates degree, or
  • further their knowledge and skills by attending a 4-year university

Additionally, associates degrees, apprenticeships (or paid training), vocational schools, and internships often provide new pathways to finding and obtaining high paying careers without the 4-year time and financial investment.

 

CTE Supports Graduation & Employability Skills

CTE courses also provide our students with context between what they’re learning in school and the real world, so they can understand the value in what they’re learning. And, as teachers, whenever we can answer the most commonly asked question of “why do I have to learn this,” we win! We know we have captured our students’ attention and helped them make those education-to-career connections.

Not only does research show that students in CTE courses perform better, but they are more engaged and have higher graduation rates. CTE programs help students see the relevance of their studies for their future, and motivates them to attend classes and study hard.

CTE High School Graduation Rates

Giving students opportunities for real-world applications also provides additional benefits. Students find success by gaining job-specific skills related to defined career pathways they explore through CTE courses. High school CTE courses help prepare students with the skills and knowledge they need for entry-level jobs, as well as being better prepared for college.

According to Randy Walden, Advanced Manufacturing Specialist, of Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development,

“Students can actually come right out of [CTE] programs and be employable right out of high school. That’s not typical from a normal high school career. These CTE programs are building a base workforce.”

Research also tells us that CTE students are “significantly more likely than their non-CTE counterparts to report developing problem-solving, project completion, research, math, college application, work-related communication, time management, and critical-thinking skills during high school.”

Regardless of the path our students take – whether jumping immediately into the workforce or pursuing a 2-year or 4-year college degree – a real and public issue is that a vast number of local and global employers have identified not being able to fill positions due to lack of skilled or qualified applicants. In fact, in the U.S. alone, nearly two-thirds of companies reported not being able to fill positions due to skill gaps, with a majority of those being in technology and healthcare. 

If employers don’t have the employees needed for both current and future job openings to fill these gaps, this could potentially pose an issue for local and broader economies. Additionally, if students graduating college don’t have degrees that are in demand and allow for immediate entry into the workforce, we could be perpetuating the problem with student debt. 

While a lot of our students do choose to pursue some form of post-secondary education, there are many careers out there that don’t require our students to go to college and still allows them to make a great living. We’d be benefitting our students and our global economy by making students aware of the abundance of careers available to them that are in high demand and don’t require a 4-year degree.

 

Supporting Future Jobs & Employers

 

The landscape of future jobs is shifting and creating new opportunities – and demands – for our students.

We know the future will create different jobs and require different skill sets than we have today.

It is estimated that roughly 6.5 million US workers will need to seek out a new profession as the job market shifts. Although automation will reduce jobs (such as in manufacturing and agriculture), it will also create new jobs that require skilled employees who can design, build, and maintain systems (such as in information technology). Robots also won’t be able to replace fields such as marketing, sales, writing, etc. These jobs need skilled employees who can think creatively and solve problems. 

With the Baby Boomer generation being one of the largest generations that are now entering retirement age, new job openings are being created as they leave the workforce. This also means that labor market skill gaps are more obvious. And employers are seeking to find qualified workers to fill them. Additionally, with this ‘aging’ population comes a new job boom in the healthcare industry.

Growing Healthcare Occupations

This generation is also living longer than previous generations and will be needing healthcare assistance in the years to come. In fact, the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has stated, “The aging of the baby boom generation could fuel a 75 percent increase in the number of Americans ages 65 and older requiring nursing home care, to about 2.3 million in 2030 from 1.3 million in 2010.” This shift in the labor market opens more opportunities in this industry than ever before. The healthcare industry will continue to grow with the need for more skilled employees. In fact, health care occupations are projected to grow 18 percent by 2026, adding more than 2 million new jobs.

With the shift in the labor market, demands due to new technology, and the needs of employers, giving our students the skills and knowledge they need to make an informed decision about their future can all be done by providing our students CTE courses in high school.

Being Future Forward

Most of us would agree that when we were in high school, we had no idea of the jobs that were available to us until we got out into the real world. 

And, nowadays, employers are also getting more and more involved in helping schools better prepare them for the careers of tomorrow based on the local and global needs in the economy and addressing the skills gaps that they are seeing.

CTE courses:

  • Expose students to people in varying and unique career fields 
  • Give them an understanding of the skills required 
  • Bring awareness to the amount of additional education that would be needed for a career
  • Give students choices to decide whether or not to
    • enter the workforce after high school,
    • seek out some additional school like associates degree, vocational training, and internships, or
    • attend a four-year university.
  • Allow them to evaluate whether or not the career that interests them is really the right fit 
  • Make real-world connections 
  • Provide them with employability skills and ‘soft,’ essential skills

 

It is important for schools to offer CTE programs that align with their regions’ industries and are highest in demand. If we offer programs that are no longer meeting the needs of the local or global economy, then we aren’t preparing our students for a successful future.

Learn how eDynamic Learning provides the largest library of CTE and elective courses in North America and is the only publisher solely dedicated to developing programs of study in pathways leading to industry-recognized certifications. Our Career Ready Program is aimed at three core areas of focus: IT & Applied Technology, Health Science, and Business. These pathways gear students toward fields in the highest demand, with the highest wages. 

We look forward to partnering with you to support your students in preparing them for a rewarding and successful future post-graduation. Get in touch with us!