Paxton/Patterson Blog

Helpful information about STEM education and CTE programs

Vocational Education Is Out; Career and Technical Education Is In

by paxpatnate 1. February 2016 03:47

Nicholas Pinchuk, chairman and CEO of Snap-on Tools, says CTE “is the single best weapon” companies have in today’s global competition for jobs.

Vocational ed is out; CTE is in. What's the difference? 

Today, CTE provides a vastly different pathway, one that leads to high school graduation, higher education and meaningful middle-class, 21st-century jobs in skilled trades, applied sciences and technology. The idea is to prepare students for a career at whatever point they decide to pursue one and to align high school CTE with postsecondary options. Curricula have changed even in woodworking, where today’s students learn to read blueprints, make detailed drawings and use machinery commonly used in a very different woodworking industry. Similarly, automotive careers have adapted to a changing industry where computerized equipment, electronics and advanced materials are now standard, and students can choose to study fuel cells or electric car design.

I have visited many remarkable CTE programs, and the most effective ones have well-prepared educators who have externship opportunities for targeted professional development; partnerships with businesses that provide students with authentic work opportunities (both as internships during high school and full-time jobs after graduation); and a strong relationship between the technical fields and academic subjects like English, history, science and math.

With a CTE program, a student who might otherwise have wondered about the value of school can see a direct connection between graduation and a good job. In the United States, 3 out of 4 students graduate from high school on time. For those in CTE programs, 9 out of 10 graduate on time, with 7 of every 10 enrolling in postsecondary education. And CTE translates into earning power. Since 1993, the research group MDRC has compared earnings of young men who graduated from career academies and traditional high schools. Eight years out of high school, career academy graduates earn, on average, 16 percent more than their traditional high school peers.

As Pinchuk and other business leaders would attest, employers are looking to recruit people with a strong knowledge base, technical skills, and critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities. And their go-to job pool includes CTE graduates.

-Information provided by Randi Weingarten, Edsurge
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