When you hear the following three letters what is your first thought? CTE For me, I immediately think about career and technical education but for others they are left wondering if this is a new shortcut kids are using while texting, communication technology education, a disease associated with a brain injury are the most common especially if you utilize google.
Is the phrase CTE still relevant? Some other terms used in CTE that have a stigma/bias are industrial tech, shop, manufacturing and tech ed. Most people have a memory or experience with career and technical education classes somewhere in their past. These memories are part of your underlying beliefs. Right or wrong this is part of each person’s internal radar. So when we hear or read the terms we may unconsciously make a judgment.
So how do we move ahead knowing our country needs a skilled workforce in career and technical education and youth being exposed to CTE bias? Often students may be interested in a hands-on job that is perceived as being a non-successful career which is the exact opposite of our current reality. Could it be that convincing parents is one of our country’s barriers? Students are still feeling an enormous amount of pressure to attend a four year college. Many skilled jobs in our country are in high-demand, high-skilled and high-wage and they do not need a four year degree but a one to two year trades program found at our local community colleges for a fraction of the price. Students are aware of the debt load of a four year degree but understanding if you need that post-education pathway needs to be explored at a deeper level in high school. What is a career you are interested in doing and what post-secondary education do you need?
What are students and families hearing about CTE? Are the messages skewed by the messenger unknowingly? Students only know about careers they are exposed to which are often from family, friends and teachers. If only from school many are getting advice from teachers and counselors who have four year degrees. Speaking from experience is easy but when you don’t have a background in a 1-2 year certification/degree program, it’s harder to promote.
I’ve been working on a marketing approach to build momentum around CTE. Now more than ever we need to have vibrant and strong secondary CTE programs. CTE needs us!! So let’s work together to reboot/re-launch career and technical education.