Career Technical Education or CTE can give your child what they need to succeed in life. With technical, academic, and employability skills, the focus of CTE is on developing skills that meet the needs of employers. The job market is desperate for technology, medical, and business workers because of retirements in the workforce and a demand for more employees as technology evolves. CTE programs start in high school, and some start as early as sixth grade. These programs prepare students for the job market, college, or both.
In addition to preparing students for their future careers by giving them the knowledge they need to be successful in their chosen field, they are also teaching students “soft skills” or “21st-century skills.” As we have seen over the past few years with the coronavirus pandemic, how people work has changed. Employers are now seeking people who can handle working remotely, which involves an employee showing they can work virtually with a team, manage their time to complete their work, be adaptable and demonstrate that they can be effective communicators. Students learning virtually have a leg up in these skills because that is already the expectation for them.
The best way to begin is to explore your interests. Some students might know what they want to do while others are so sure. High school is a time of discovery for many students, so let them explore all their options to learn where their passions lie.
These programs are all about connecting to career fields that students want to pursue. Suppose a student is looking at entering a profession for which the program does not have a direct path. In that case, that is the time to look at how skills learned in other classes will still benefit the student trying to achieve their career aspirations by helping them overcome hurdles that may be holding them back.
“I don’t ask the question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ That’s not the question I ask,” said Tami Perez, CTE coordinator for Idaho Technical Career Academy, “Because it’s more like, ‘What are you interested in? What are you passionate about?’ … let’s try to make some of those connections into your courses.”
Perez says Idaho Technical Career Academy follows a college model. Students might not have class every day, but they have work they are expected to complete throughout the week. Also, like with college, students needing assistance can reach out to their instructors during set office hours to get any help they need or sit in on a tutoring session. Advisors like Perez also constantly check in with students to ensure they are still actively engaged in the track they are following.
If you’re interested in learning more about career technical education, you can listen to a one-to-one interview on the K12 On Learning podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts. For more on career readiness, check out Stride Career Prep, which is full of information for parents and students looking ahead.