career and technical education
Economists have provided abundant evidence that holding a certificate or associate degree in general studies (also called liberal arts or the humanities) has little to no economic value, yet these programs are growing at community colleges at a faster rate than vocational or occupational programs with higher market value. Why is this so?
"We do have a shortage," Miller said. "When we advertise, we're not getting CTE (career and technical education) certified teachers in the application pool." Across Michigan, school administrators say they are facing similar challenges. With CTE enrollment growing statewide, several said they are struggling with a shortage of applicants for open positions, while others worry about finding the right people if they expand programs.
Enthusiasm for career and technical education has been building in recent years as educators and lawmakers moved away from the once-popular notion that every student should try for a college degree. Many districts have added career academies to their high schools, hoping to tap into students' interests.
After years of focusing intensely on college readiness, states are turning their attention to students' futures as workers, enacting a flurry of laws and policies designed to bolster career education and preparation. "What we're seeing is that there's been a shift from focusing purely on college readiness to thinking also about career readiness," said Jennifer Thomsen, who analyzes policy for the Education Commission of the States.
The STEM workforce is rapidly changing, said James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition, a STEM education advocacy group. Mechanics and technicians--occupations that aren't always popularly associated with a need for computing skills--now require some programming ability, he said. And the jobs pay well.
Lawmakers in California want to change the way people think about career and technical education. They are making a push to improve and expand CTE programs through the state’s vast community college system.
Experiential, work-based career and technical education programs are receiving attention from policymakers and leaders in the scientific community as an emerging vehicle for STEM education, including through the Perkins reauthorization bill, a new National Science Board initiative on the skilled technical workforce, and ongoing programs at federal science agencies.
It's the chance of a lifetime, but it's also a regular part of students' experience at their elite public high school, the Marine Academy of Science and Technology. It's a full-time career-and-technical-education program offered by a countywide vocational district. Acceptance rates at MAST rival those at some of the most selective universities. Seats are coveted for good reason: They funnel students into impressive colleges, and jobs in marine science, engineering, and other fields.
Legislation to overhaul the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was introduced on Thursday in the House of Representatives. The bill is similar in several respects to legislation the House passed last year that grants states more flexibility over spending and priorities.
Today's career-technical education is far from the vocational schools of the 1970s. In the modern world of career-technical education (often referred to as CTE), students are preparing for the jobs of tomorrow using state-of-the-art equipment and technology in a hands-on learning environment.