How CTE Can Prepare High School Students for a Skills-Driven Economy

By Dusty Moore

As both the economy and our classrooms continue adapting to a technology-rich world, they are becoming more skills-driven than ever before. This shift has caused the Career and Technical Education (CTE) industry to re-examine how best to prepare students with the necessary skills for their careers.

K-12 schools aim to equip students with the skills needed to succeed in a 21st-century economy, and CTE has a new opportunity to become further integrated in core curricula, which would give students hands-on skills in the classroom before they walk into their first interview.

Students Stand Out with Certifications

CTE programs equip students with the tangible skills sought by industry leaders to address the widening skills gap and evolving workforce. One of the most impactful benefits CTE can provide is industry-backed certifications. These certification programs can coincide with regular coursework and validate the student’s mastery of concepts with each program.

Through certification programs, a student is able to learn skills that companies are looking for and showcase that expertise to potential employers. The certification can help students stand out in an increasingly crowded pool of applicants and start their career in the right direction.

Career Exploration

Too often, students leave high school without a good sense of which direction they’d like to go in their career. Students are either too overwhelmed by all of the possible career paths they can take, or they don’t learn about potential industries until they’re almost finished with their education. Being involved in CTE programs solves this problem.

In an economy where new types of jobs are created daily, CTE can play an important role in exposing students to these growing industries and new opportunities.

During this process, students may discover new careers in their area of interest. This gives them a head start prior to graduation. It’s also possible for a student to discover that the industry they thought was interesting actually isn’t a good fit for them. They can then focus their attention elsewhere while still in school.

Discovering Growing Industries

Social media marketing, health science and STEM are all examples of growing fields that appeal to students. They are also industries that are newly embracing CTE as a way to prepare the next generation of workers.

Because technology is constantly evolving in the workplace, it’s important that CTE curriculum and instructional materials are delivered in an easy-to-update medium. For example, online CTE platforms make it easy for providers to focus on maintaining accurate and fresh information.

The Next Generation

As students continue to prepare for tomorrow’s jobs, consider how your community can get more involved with CTE programs. Determine which initiatives your school community already has in place, and suggest new ways to support these programs. For example, a local organization could partner with your district to give students real-world experience practicing what they learn in CTE courses. All of these efforts will set up the next generation of young professionals for success.

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Dusty Moore is the president of iCEV.

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