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Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series: An Investment Worth Making

February 15th, 2012

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2000. Among other responsibilities, Langevin serves as co-chair of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus.

As I travel around Rhode Island to speak with educators, businesses, and others in the community about how to strengthen our economy and create good jobs, one common theme continues to surface: Businesses can’t fill existing vacancies because those looking for work don’t have the skills needed to compete for the jobs of the 21st century. President Obama also raised the issue of the ‘skills gap’ in his recent State of the Union address.

But what exactly are we doing to close it?

Recent reports published by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce and Harvard University’s Pathways to Prosperity Project highlight our failure in the education system to engage all of our students. They also propose solutions to better prepare students, which include a strong emphasis on Career Technical Education (CTE).

To engage and prepare our students, we must strengthen and fully fund our CTE system. I also believe all young Americans should be equipped with college and career readiness skills. I do not believe they are limited to a college OR career choice; rather, our skills gap requires that our students are ready to pursue both postsecondary AND career opportunities.

The Education for Tomorrow’s Jobs Act, which I sponsored with Representative G.T. Thompson, my fellow co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, addresses our nation’s education and workforce challenges by combining rigorous college preparation with workplace experience for high school students. Known as “Linked Learning”, this measure is another tool to ensure that our students are prepared for a wide range of high-growth, high-skilled and high-wage occupations, such as engineering, arts and media, cybersecurity, and health.

In order to strengthen the pipeline for these jobs, we need to unite all of our schools, businesses, universities and other invested partners in a common goal. Under this legislation, teachers and school administrators would collaborate on interdisciplinary education and pursue partnerships with local businesses and community organizations to identify workforce demands and internship opportunities. We should look to businesses like Toyota and IBM that are proactive in training students with needed skills that include problem solving, critical thinking, and teamwork.

The best investment we as a country can make is in our education system. Our students are the problem solvers, the innovators and the job creators of tomorrow. If we engage our students and make the coursework relevant to their future, we reduce dropout rates, increase graduation rates and prepare our students for postsecondary pursuits. Failing to do so hurts our country’s innovative edge and leaves us unable to fill the jobs of the 21st Century.

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Langevin’s blog entry is one of two that are being featured this month on the Friends of CTE Blog Series. In celebration of February’s National CTE Month, NASDCTEc is also including a blog entry from the National FFA Organization, a Career Technical Student Organization that “prepares students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources systems.”

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Melinda Findley Lloyd, Communications Consultant, at mlloyd@careertech.org.

Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series: I LOVE MY JOB!

January 11th, 2012

Deanna Lewis serves as the Director for Career & Certification Services with the Home Builders Institute (HBI). Prior to joining HBI’s family in 2001, Lewis’ experiences included teaching at the elementary level where she developed a customized curriculum for transitional first grade students; managing the tri-state (Pennsylvania, New Jersey & Delaware) satellite office of the New York Times; and conducting test score interpretation as a consultant for the College Board.

During a recent visit, my plumber said, “I love my job!” as he was patiently answering my hundred and one questions without slowing down on the task at hand (he was getting paid by the hour). He said this before he gave me the bill. I’m sure he was enjoying his job even more as I wrote the check.

His comment, “I love my job,” left an impression on me. I began to wonder what happened to the passion tradesmen and women used to have for their jobs. That sense of excitement about learning plumbing systems or the concept that a carpenter’s work is his or her art. Is that passion still out there?

Will the Workforce be Ready?

It is predicted that by 2014 careers in the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster will start to resume employment levels like those seen in 2007 and will exceed 2007 levels in 2015.[1] Will the industry have a workforce prepared to meet the demands? Carpenters are listed as one of the 30 occupations with the largest employment growth from 2008-18. The profession is categorized as requiring long-term on-the-job training.[2] Are there a sufficient number of trainees to fill the future demand?

Industry Opportunities – Choosing the Right Path

Construction offers opportunities at every level. It is an industry that still has career opportunities following high school. That does not imply that training stops at that point. Instead, it indicates there are still on-the-job training opportunities available. There are also certificate and two-year programs offered at technical schools and community colleges.  For management-level positions, many companies will require a four-year degree.

That being said, it is predicted that overall, 34 percent of the jobs in the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster™ will require at least some postsecondary education and training by 2018.[1] Now is the time to engage youth. Inform them about the educational requirements to be successful in the industry. HBI currently offers a first step to professionalism through its student certification program, which sets the stage for stackable credentials.[4] The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) also provides information about the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster™ at http://www.careertech.org/career-clusters/landing-pages/architecture.html.

Educators Making a Difference

Career Technical Education (CTE) has programs in nearly 1,300 public high schools and 1,700 two-year-colleges[3]. HBI is a strong supporter of CTE because it meets our members’ needs and helps students, of all ages, become college and career ready so they have a lifetime of success. CTE programs do an excellent job preparing students for the industry opportunities identified above, but it is clear that instructors go far beyond just preparing students to work.

Stan Sluzenski’s students are bound to be on the right path to becoming industry professionals. Sluzenski, a Building Trades Instructor at St. Croix Regional Technical Center in Calais, Maine, utilizes his resources well to help his students gain respect and experience. He said, “As a teacher, I encounter the need for skilled workers from many different sources, including my local advisory board, community members and industry recruiters.”

The Spokane Home Builders Association in Spokane, Washington, is celebrating 31 years of changing lives and building futures. Kim Waseca-Love, Education/Apprenticeship Director captured the spirit of their program when she said, “Carpentry allows us to express our creative spirit.” Waseca-Love goes on to say, “We also know the feeling of accomplishment that we have when we look at our completed work.” She feels the instructors are the apprenticeship program’s key ingredient. “It is because of their qualifications and passion for the trade that our students are able to acquire all the educational opportunities they need to climb as high as they wish on the residential construction industry’s ladder of success.”

Educators such as Sluzenski and Waseca-Love are leading the charge for a knowledgeable workforce by making sure students interested in the construction industry know…

  • The difference between just a job and a career
  • How and where to look for employment following high school
  • The reason for advancing skills after high school
  • The postsecondary educational opportunities that are available
  • How to access the various types of postsecondary training

Just as important, though, they are instilling in their students a crucial passion for the work. It takes time to become a skilled professional in the construction industry. Hopefully, there will be many reaching that status who will chime in with the words . . . “I love my job!”

 

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and
experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Melinda Findley Lloyd, Communications Consultant, at mlloyd@careertech.org.

 

[1] The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, “Career Clusters:  Forecasting Demand for High School through College Jobs 2008-2018”, Georgetown University, November 2011. http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/clusters-complete-update1.pdf

[2] United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic and Employment Projections Table 7. The 30 fastest-growing occupations, 2008-18, December 2009. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.toc.htm

[3] National Center for Education Statistics.

[4] Home Builders Institute, http://www.hbicertification.org

Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series: College Ready for Some or Career Ready for All

December 9th, 2011

Jana Hambruch, an Industry Advisor who provides consulting services for Adobe Systems Incorporated, has more than 18 years of technical certification industry experience in the secondary, postsecondary, and workforce education markets.

For years, educators have been driven to produce “college ready” students through secondary education programs. Yet today, 41% of matriculated high school students do not pursue postsecondary education.[1]  Of the ones who do, less than half actually graduate.[2] These students need to be taught marketable 21st century skills at the secondary level.[3]  

Some existing Career Technical Education (CTE) programs remain centered on vocational skills that were important in the past but find little traction in today’s digital technology driven market. In order to overcome the challenges our nation faces, our workforce must be highly competitive in the global market, and it must remain the leading innovator in the high-tech industries and occupations that dominate our global economy. In order to accomplish this, our education system must adapt to these new demands.

America’s workforce is aging.  Fifty percent of our workforce [3] is close to retirement age, and others lack the skills necessary to truly compete in today’s market. The generation of future workers who are entering high school now will be expected to use technology at the beginning of their careers, in many cases technology that does not even exist today. How do we prepare these students to meet these challenges and take the reins of a digital economy?

Well, to begin with, educators must recognize the paradigm shift from “College Ready for Some” to “Career Ready for All”.

CTE is more important now than ever.

  • Future employees must have cognitive/critical thinking skills to compete in technology driven markets
  • Survival – adaptive academic skills are imperative, as individuals must stay current and continue training in technology

To prepare secondary students to be “Career Ready”, we need to look at what employable and marketable skill sets all students need foundationally to succeed regardless of the profession they desire to be in. These include …

  • Digital Literacy,
  • Fluency in Creative and Technical Skill Sets, and
  • Critical Thinking Skills.

To meet this challenge, educators themselves have begun using a variety of technology based education tools and methods. These include virtual learning environments, blended learning environments, web-based technologies such as blogs, streaming media, social networks and more.

The majority of students who enroll in modern CTE programs that incorporate these learning styles and include a measureable result with an industry certification (Intro to IT, Web Design, Web Development, Digital Design, Gaming Design, TV Production, and Digital Media) are staying in school, graduating, and performing better on state standardized exams. These courses include digital design applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, Illustrator and Premiere Pro which are engaging and provide a true visual learning
experience that attracts all students. They focus on cognitive and critical thinking skills as a core element of the learning process.

What do the district and school gain?

  • Increase in graduation rate
  • Increase in student academic achievement across common core
  • Increase in state standardized test scores
  • Increase in enrollment
  • Return on investment and measureable result: industry certification

Adobe has made tremendous strides in providing free online curriculum, teacher and student resources and a nationally recognized industry certification. The industry certification the students achieve is a credential that employers recognize, one which quantifies the skills of the worker and sets them apart. As a result, students entering the workforce have a much better opportunity to earn a livable wage, either while beginning their postsecondary studies or embarking on their career.

More information about the resources available through Adobe can be found online at http://www.adobe.com/education/k12/career-technical-education.edu.html. Programs of Study are also available for the Information Technology Career Cluster™ at http://www.careertech.org/career-clusters/resources/plans/it.html.

Companies like Adobe have made great strides to understand the value of Career Ready for All!

 

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series  provides advocates – from business and industry, researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Melinda Findley Lloyd, Communications Consultant, at mlloyd@careertech.org.

 

[1] Harvard Graduate School of Education, “Pathways To Prosperity”, Harvard University,
2011. Web, 12/01/2011. http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/features/2011/Pathways_to_Prosperity_Feb2011.pdf

[2] Bowler,Mike. “Dropouts Loom Large For Schools”. U.S. News and World Report. 2009. Web. 12/01/2011. http://www.usnews.com/education/articles/2009/08/19/dropouts-loom-large-for-schools

[3] Sturko Grossman,Cheryl. “Preparing WIA Youth for the STEM Workforce”. Youthwork Information Brief. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Office of Workforce Development, Bureau of Workforce Services. 2008. Web. 12/01/2011. http://jfs.ohio.gov/owd/WorkforceProf/Youth/Docs/Infobrief35_STEM_Workforce_.pdf

 

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