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Rethinking Career & Technical Education: it isn’t just for trades anymore

NHBR featured a great piece on New Hampshire’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, highlighting their efforts to give students real-world experience and helping train the next generation of industry leaders. New Hampshire’s 28 CTE centers are partnering with businesses in industries beyond the traditional offerings, industries like biomedical engineering, digital media arts, and computer networking. Building on technical skills, students learn how to problem solve, become acquainted with different professional environments, and develop other soft skills that are proven to drive success in a variety career paths, like seeing a project through to it’s end:

“It’s a different caliber of student preparedness, and I think the employers really appreciate that,” says David Warrender, director of career and technical education at the Huot Technical Center in Laconia.

CTE advocates say the programs are for all students, not just those who plan on going into trades:

“I would say it still is a challenge for the high schools to understand the value of these career paths. They may designate a person saying they’re not going to college so we’ll send them to the Cheshire Career Center and that’s not the case,” says Lisa Danley, director of the Chesire Career Center in Keene. “Every one of our programs offers college credit, and we partner with all of the community colleges to not only get dual enrollment but to have the next step in education.”

“When you look at the list of programs in New Hampshire, it’s everything from accounting to welding, white-collar careers to blue-collar careers, and all of the CTE programs lead to high wages and high demand jobs,” says Eric Feldborg, director of career and technical education for the state Department of Education.

Projects widely vary. In a construction management program, the NH Home Builders Association is supporting a tiny house project, where students will build a house that will be shipped off once it’s done. Nashua’s computer networking students build their own computers following a curriculum provided by CISCO, the leading manufacturer of networking equipment in the world.

But there are barriers to the programs and enrollment. There’s still a stereotype about career education, and CTE administrators say it’s a deterrent. And some schools, like the Huot Technical Center, have had declining enrollment because other schools can’t afford to send their students to Huot:

“What limits the Huot Center most of all is, and we respect this, but some of our sending districts have budget issues and there is a cost to sending the kids to the Huot Center,” says Warrender. “That has to do with how much money the Legislature is appropriating to the CTE reimbursement.”

“The difficulty… is in a lot of cases the students aren’t getting the encouragement to take the courses offered in CTE from their parents,” says Donald Jalbert, director of technical studies at Milford High School.

Check out this great infographic on CTE from the Association for Career & Technical Education:

cte-full

Read the full article here.

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