Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs a boon to students, schools and school districts across America.
Economic uncertainty. Rapid technological advances. Government pressure. Increased globalization. Teachers and schools and school districts face greater challenges in preparing students for the future than ever before.
With 1.2 million students dropping out in the US every year, those challenges are compounded by:
- Estimated cost of $312 billion in lost revenues for a single year’s dropouts
- The fact that students who drop out are more than three times as likely to be unemployed as those who graduate from high school and go on to complete a Bachelor’s degree
- By the challenges posed to businesses looking for but often not finding entry-level employees with adequate creative, critical thinking and problem solving skills
- By school districts, already strapped for cash, losing per-pupil funding and getting sanctioned for lowest achieving schools.
The challenge, therefore, for the K-12 education community is to identify strategies and programs that keep students in school and help them become competitive in the job market by the time they graduate. Here’s one viable solution.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs – which integrate academics with technology know-how in an occupation or industry (like digital communications) are proving to be one strategy that works for students. IT engages them with relevant programs, motivates and prepares them for participating in the 21st century’s technology-based economy.
While available funding can be a big barrier for developing successful programs like this, if funds can be secured the first step for any school district is to identify local industries and occupations that might provide work experiences for students and jobs in their local area. The second is to identify in-school partners – faculty and administrators who work together to assure that the program prepares students both academically and within the skill area.
One challenge school districts face is the potential imbalance caused in enrollments between schools that have successful CTE programs and those that don’t. In addition to a variety of technology standards and measures of success, it’s important for school districts planning a CTE program to look at licensing agreements that cover the entire district, not just individual schools. This can save districts strapped for cash and ensure that as many as possible benefit from the programs put in place.
The results of CTE programs are encouraging, inspiring and re-engaging students who likely would have dropped out. Instead, more students are now graduating with diplomas and real-world job skills, and with industry certifications to back up the skills, giving them confidence and making them more attractive to potential employers.
For more on how CTE programs are engaging students and preparing them for the 21st century economy, download this PDF.