Updated: Aug 7
With high schools and community colleges providing the majority of career and technical education, administrators and educators need to join forces with them to ensure the CTE programs offered support an equitable and inclusive education. The modern world’s job market continues to fluctuate and change, leaving an uncertain future for many currently enrolled in college. CTE, however, trains students to be the backbone of our country, with excellent instruction and support in the skills that stabilize our country.
Why else do we need quality and intentional Career & Technical Education programs?
#1 - Increased Graduation Rates
Did you know that one sure way to increase graduation rates is to offer Career & Technical Education at your school? In fact, research has shown students focused on CTE have a 93% graduation rate (U.S. Department of Education). For students who concentrated in CTE, the graduation rate is 94%, and it jumps to 98% for those who graduated beyond their expected date. Compare that to the 86% graduation rate for non-CTE students, and you can see the efficacy of CTE.
When you look at the rates of post-secondary enrollment and completion between CTE students and non-CTE students, it’s relatively the same. So is the rate of employment and the amount earned - it’s all relatively the same, even with some having achieved a 4-year post-secondary degree.
#2 - Increase of Achievement due to Emphasis on “Soft Skills”
CTE is not just beneficial for students who plan to enter the workforce directly after college. In fact, research has shown a 91% increase in achievement for all students who have earned at least 2-3 CTE credits before enrolling in college. The emphasis that CTE places on so-called “soft skills” increases aptitude in a variety of areas, including problem solving, critical thinking, time management, research, effective communication, and project completion. These skills are necessary for all adults in our modern world to succeed.
#3 - Real-World Relevance
“But when am I EVER going to have to know this?” is a frequent refrain among high school classrooms, making the most effective teachers the ones who can make the relevance link. It also gives students the opportunity to explore a variety of career options instead of being pushed in the usual funnel towards higher education. When students feel prepared to leave the predictability of high school hallways, they’re more confident to enter the real world and make a positive contribution to society.
#4 - Sense of Direction
When middle school students are offered CTE options, there is a direct correlation with achievement in other areas of school throughout their educational journey. Though some may think it too early, many students thrive at a chance to use skills they’ve not yet been able to highlight, discover new possibilities for their future, and even bring back those hands-on skills that were such a big part of their elementary school years. Personalized education comes by accommodating the skill set of every student and supporting them in their development.
#5 - Future Focus
There are over 50 million job available in 2023 that do not require a bachelor’s degree, but most students feel pushed to attend college as a singular option. And the kicker? These jobs pay a median of $55,000 per year, an incredible opportunity. Add to that the 1 million craft professional jobs that are now unfulfilled in America, and we have an incredible opportunity for many students if we can provide equitable access to these programs.
What else should we know?
There’s a discrepancy where over 77% of students participated in at least one CTE class, but only 37% graduated with a focus in CTE. In CA, the percentage is 36%. What is causing them to pull away from CTE?
How can we support CTE students?
If your school offers CTE, it may be time to add student organizations that support these endeavors. Here’s a list of options:
DECA - Distributing Education Clubs of America for entrepreneurs and careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management.
FCCLA - Family, Career, & Community Leaders of America providing career pathways in hospitality & tourism, visual arts & design, education & training, and human services.
FBLA - Future Business Leaders of America combines business & education for career development in business.
FFA - Future Farmers of America provides support for future leadership and careers in the science, business, and technology of agriculture
HOSA - Health Occupations Students of America promotes career opportunities in the health care industry.
SkillsUSA - A nonprofit that supports middle, high, and college students in preparations for careers in trade, technical, health, and skilled service occupations
Supporting CTE requires more than just class offerings. If administrators, counselors, and educators can coordinate with the needs of students and their families along with the support of local community colleges, there’s an incredible opportunity for the building of a solid CTE foundation. With the ever-changing workforce and needs of the modern job atmosphere, CTE is needed more than ever!