Career and Technical Education (CTE) has been made new again. Touting a 243-year-old history, we can draw upon the story of the first U.S. ambassador and famous inventor Benjamin Franklin, who worked his way into the great halls of our nation through a printer apprenticeship with his brother James. Fast-forward to what we now know as the 4th Industrial Revolution, we believe that allowing children to explore their passions and career interests early and often is critical.
CTE programs today go beyond the “shop class” of decades past. More and more advocates are calling for an opportunity to move away from the current stigmatized divergent system of “college=good,” “vocation=bad” and offer multiple pathways to success that truly serve the needs of students and families. CTE allows students to develop the essential skills we all believe are critical and attach a deeper, relevant meaning to what they are learning.
At Colorado Succeeds, we are interested in transforming CTE. Schools across the state are being innovative with their resources and using CTE as a way to bridge STEM education, problem-based learning, increasing postsecondary access through credential attainment, and industry partnerships.
CTE works for high school students, business, and the economy. According to the U.S. Department of Education, high school graduates who earned 2-3 CTE credits enrolled in college at a rate of 91%. CTE credits and credentials reduce the cost of college – leading to a higher attainment rate of postsecondary degree.
The positive impact is clear for Colorado. Research shows, *Colorado Community College System alumni in the workforce contribute $5.1 billion annually to the state economy. Building the pathway for postsecondary success earlier with options such as the Career Success Program and local apprenticeships then, is key.
Celebrating #CTEmonth throughout February, Colorado Succeeds presented at the annual Colorado Association of Career and Technical Administrators (CACTA) Conference in Loveland Colorado, welcomed our first intern from East High School, and shared CTE success stories in a joint session with the House and Senate Education Committees.
“If the only path to prosperity is a 4-year degree we are threading a very, very thin needle. CTE is a way to create multiple pathways,” testified Jesus Salazar, CEO of Prosono and Colorado Succeeds Board Co-Chair.
With the recent passing of the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” CTE has also gained national momentum. The data trends upward in the area of improving the upward economic mobility of students and as a way to better prepare all students for the jobs and careers of the future. We envision more partnerships between education and industry, more skilled members of the future workforce, and a better Colorado where every resident thrives.
* Colorado Community College System, The Economic Value of the Colorado Community College System, May 2017.