Today’s job market is healthier than ever before, but talent remains difficult to find. Simply put, there are more job openings than there are qualified employees to fill them. That is why it becomes even more important to invest in robust Career Technical Education Programs.
Districts and schools around Colorado are using Career Technical Education (CTE) as a bridge to provide students with opportunities to build the skills needed for many of the in-demand jobs across the state, including in manufacturing, engineering, and others.
To celebrate February as CTE month, Colorado Succeeds connected with some regional programs across the state offering robust CTE experiences for their students. We discussed CTE programming with the Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative’s Building and Trades Pathway and Montrose High School Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Engineering Program Pathway.
The Building and Trades Pathway Program is designed to address a complex problem that many communities in Colorado (and nation-wide) are facing, housing and cost of living. The idea is that students in regional schools can access high quality career readiness programs and then enter the workforce with skills and experience, earning them more competitive wages so they can remain in their home communities while also contributing to the community.
PLTW Engineering at Montrose empowers students to step into the role of an engineer, adopt a problem-solving mindset, and make the leap from dreamers to doers. The program’ s courses engage students in compelling, real-world challenges that help them become better collaborators and thinkers.
CTE programs encourage agile learning, allowing all students to pursue ongoing education and lifelong learning so that they can advance in the careers of their choosing by helping them draw maps based on their strengths and interests and making the process more efficient and cost-effective.
Many of the PLTW engineering pathway graduates go on to pursue engineering careers while others are lineman, contractors, electricians, etc. because they found an interest in different career pathways and wanted another option than a four-year degree program.
As Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative’s Sarah Ullrich put it: “There is not just one pathway to a career–higher education is one route, internships or apprenticeships are another route, certification programs are another route. Sometimes it’s one of those routes and sometimes it’s a combination of them”
Successful CTE Programs require school leaders to work with postsecondary education institutions, and business to design and provide internships and apprenticeship that align to credential attainment and a future career.
One of the businesses the Building and Trades Pathway works with is Nunn Construction, a Colorado based company that mostly works on commercial projects with an emphasis on sustainability. In addition to sending in a project manager to speak to the students, the company also sets up job shadow days for students to participate in hands-on activities to understand better what a career in construction could entail.
As for the PLTW Engineering Program Pathway, they partner with various businesses like Del-Mont Consultants and Gordon Composites who provide students with opportunities to apply what they learn in the classroom in a real work environment through interns.
Our economy demands more talent in the workforce pipeline. The state has an opportunity to expand access to CTE to ensure all Colorado students gain the skills, knowledge, and experience needed for future success while limiting the costs to students.
Watch this video to learn more on how Colorado Succeeds is leading this work.
To learn more about Colorado’s CTE programs, visit http://coloradostateplan.com/