The US Department of Education published findings on the long-term effect of student participation in career and technical education (CTE) programs. See the data story here.
8 years after high school graduation, those with a CTE focus (2 or more courses in a specific program of study) had higher median annual earnings. Plus, CTE concentrators were more likely to graduate high school and more likely to enroll in postsecondary education.
And yet, while 77% of students had taken at least one CTE course throughout high school, only 37% pursued a CTE focus over those four years.
So how do we get more students to focus on CTE?
Let’s start with perhaps the simplest fix: exposure to your CTE program.
You may have an excellent CTE program offering a variety of career focuses, work-based learning opportunities, post-secondary incentives, and hands-on skill learning.
Your students (and their parents) simply may not know all that’s being offered.
We’ve seen a whole range of methods to increase exposure that have really worked well. Here are a few:
➡️ West Bend School District hosted a special showcase and tour of their CTE program. Attendees included the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, local business leaders, and media.
➡️ New Berlin School District hosted a community night, welcoming parents and families to come see upgrades to their CTE program.
➡️ An instructor at Germantown High School had the idea to use their new FANUC industrial robot in core classes to teach math & physics concepts. This would give more students the chance to work with technologies they might not have had exposure to – which could lead to higher enrollment in CTE courses.
➡️ Lomira Middle School has students learning on the FANUC elearning platform in 8th grade – this exposure can get them interested in enrolling in CTE when they get to high school.
Here’s where the report showed a wide range of responses (click to expand):
Funding, available classroom space, instructor training, access to technology, and the needs of the particular region…all of these can impact what CTE courses are offered to students.
Every school district is different; we’ve seen schools succeed with a variety of methods. The key is to develop a sustainable program that works best for your district and attracts students to enroll.
Here are some examples of districts who have developed creative solutions to making their CTE programs more accessible:
➡️ The Mobile Skills Lab is just that: a mobile classroom loaded with advanced manufacturing training equipment and curriculum that can travel to four different partner school districts.
➡️ Some states have dedicated ISDs or Career Centers that focus entirely on CTE courses. Sometimes, these programs are hosted at the local technical or community college.
➡️ The Manufacturing 4.0 Co-op brought together four rural school districts to implement Industry 4.0 courses, manufacturing business partnerships, and post-secondary pathways. By pooling their combined resources (which are limited in rural areas), the co-op was able to purchase the best equipment available and reach more students in the process.
One very simple solution to begin offering more CTE courses is through eLearning. Amatrol has a multimedia, interactive eLearning library that houses over 300 courses.
With access to a computer, students can get a great head start on their CTE development. And the curriculum comes with all the instructor resources you need for easy implementation.
Students that are attracted to CTE programs tend to be more hands-on learners. They’re looking for a classroom experience that will give them real-world knowledge they can directly apply to a career pathway.
Particularly in the skilled trades, hands-on, industry-relevant teaching is crucial. We provide the equipment and curriculum to deliver this level of learning for a wide range of course areas, including:
If you have advanced technologies like industrial robots, mechatronics systems, drones, augmented reality welders, two-in-one CNC mills + 3D printers…students are going to love coming to class. Better yet, put these in a lab near an area where there is plenty of foot traffic. Your non-CTE students will see the classroom and be curious to learn how they can get their hands on the equipment.
The report showed incentives offered through the CTE programs polled, with the following results (click to expand):
The number of co-op opportunities and postsecondary credit offerings are certainly something to celebrate. We know many schools across the Midwest who are creating more opportunities for students to earn articulated credits and certifications.
Below is a list of organizations who offer industry-recognized credentials that will highly benefit your CTE students (with industry focus in parentheses).
But there is more work to be done, particularly in real-world experiences. This would include mentoring from local employers, student-run businesses, and apprenticeship opportunities. Many of the schools we’ve mentioned above are using the partnerships they’ve established with business partners or post-secondary schools to create these types of experiences for their students.
Some other organizations in the Midwest who are providing career-focused experience outside the classroom include:
We’ve worked with schools across the Midwest to develop the best CTE programs in the US. From small rural districts, to dense urban areas, our goal is to find the solution that fits the needs of your students and community.
If you’re looking to increase enrollment in CTE or bolster your program to provide industry-relevant courses, let’s connect!