← Utah CTE Blog Home

Archive for the ‘Career and Technical Education’ Category

February is CTE Month

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

JATC_HS_IMG_2447During the month of February, students, educators, and administrators across the state will join secondary and postsecondary students nationwide in celebrating Career and Technical Education (CTE). Schools can pick a day, a week, or the entire month to spotlight CTE programs.

The 2015 CTE Month theme is:
Recognizing Classroom Innovators

Goals of CTE Month:
> Inform students about the importance of choosing a CTE Pathway.
> Increase student awareness of careers, education, and training.
> Strengthen student engagement through the College and Career Plan.
> Increase parent involvement and awareness of CTE programs.
> Promote discussion of postsecondary options—training certificates, and degrees.

CTE Month is a great opportunity to promote your programs
and advocate for CTE.
> Check out the list of 28 Things to Do During CTE Month.
> Share your CTE story with policymakers at the local, state and federal levels, as well as your community.
> Write a blog about an event in your school and submit it to UtahCTE@schools.utah.gov.
> Make a 90-second video about CTE and submit it to UtahCTE@schools.utah.gov.

Details about CTE Month will be announced on Facebook and Twitter.
Visit UtahCTE.org to join our communities today!

Consider making the following activities part of your celebration:
> Decorate your school with banners and posters.
> Post electronic announcements to your school website, marquee, and bulletin boards.
> Have an open house for parents and the community.
> Make a video profiling successful alumni and where they work.
> Using social media, post on Facebook and tweet the CTE Month events at your school.

“CTE classes contributed to my academic success and future occupational plans.”
Melissa Haws, graduate Woods Cross High School

 Blue CTE Month logo and tagline

Plan Now to Be a Lifelong Learner

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

CaptureThe years spent in middle/junior high and high school are key to laying the foundation to succeed in life beyond high school—college and career. To be successful, you need to continue to learn throughout your entire life. There will never come a time when you have learned everything there is to know. The more you learn the more choices you have about what to learn and how to learn. Participation in Career and Technical Education assists students in planning, preparing, and setting goals as a college and career plan is developed.

Career and Technical Education:

  • Expands Your Options Courses and programs introduce students to career options and assist them in the development of career choices.
  • Offers a Path to Success Pathways take students into the real world, and training approximates real work situations.
  • Challenges You to Think Students are challenged to apply theoretical knowledge—learned in academic and technical classrooms—to practical problems in laboratories or at work sites.
  • Offers Tools for Developing a Meaningful College and Career Plan Defining career interests and other characteristics will lead students to the education and career opportunities to meet their needs.
  • Provides Concurrent Enrollment Concurrent enrollment is linked directly to postsecondary institutions, so students can meet preliminary requirements for postsecondary degrees while still in high school.
  • Helps Pay for Postsecondary Education Students can earn college credit without having to pay tuition, as long as he or she is attending high school.
  • Broadens Lifelong Career and Education Options Studies reveal a strong correlation between education/technical skills levels and continued employment/lifelong earnings.
  • Teaches Life Skills That Apply to Any Career Students learn employability skills, such as communication, teamwork, leadership, goal setting, resource management, and personal responsibility.

Being Successful in Today’s Global Environment

Monday, May 5th, 2014

By Gary Wixom
Assistant Commissioner for Career and Technical Education
Utah System of Higher Education

I recently read an article detailing the challenge businesses are having today attracting and keeping skilled workers. Businesses are finding that it is not enough to find employees that fit their requirements, but are struggling to keep them. One of the solutions being suggested for companies is to build a career map for their employees. What is a career map? A career map for employees in a business is a clear pathway of professional development available to employees within the business entity.

This career map provides an employee with a clear, transparent “road map” for employees to grow, develop, and advance within the company. In turn, the company grows and advances. Most businesses understand that the success or failure of the company rests squarely on the skill level, and the productivity of their entry and mid-level employees. These are the individuals who are the backbone of the company—keeping these employees satisfied and progressing within the company brings success to the company as a whole.

If having a career map is important for a business to succeed in today’s global economy, having a well-defined career map is also essential for all students. What does a “career map” look like for a student? A career map for a student has the same characteristics of the career map for employees within a business.

A career map for a student should start early and provide a clear pathway through the educational environment of middle school, high school, and postsecondary training. Flexibility is an essential component, giving students clear direction but offering a pathway to a variety of professional occupational choices leading to jobs and careers that provide a living wage.

A well-defined career map for a student should provide a clear pathway to not only the completion of high school, but also completing the requirements by taking a rigorous course of study that gives them the skills that prepare them to be “College and Career Ready”. In the global world that we live in, everyone needs a set of basic skills that prepare them so that they can acquire the skills that lead to productive employment at a level that provides a livable standard of living.

As a student, ask yourself, do I have a career map? Be sure that you have a well-defined career map that will help you complete high school with a career pathway that leads you to a professional occupation of your own choosing. Need help creating the map? Visit with your parents, a teacher, or a career counselor and create a career map for yourself. Make sure it is written and then post it on your wall where you will see it regularly. The result will increase the chances of you achieving the goals that you have for yourself in providing an exciting a successful future.

STEM 101

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

By Mary Shumway
State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Utah State Office of Education

If you live in the U. S., the buzz surrounding “STEM” is unavoidable. But the lack of a clear definition of STEM – or even its component parts (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) – may have us buzzing without fully recognizing basic differences in our understanding. “STEM 101” is an effort to increase your awareness of STEM, and to recognize the various foundations upon which different conversations about STEM are based.

The buzz around STEM began with debates in education and immigration as concerns were raised about a lack of qualified candidates for high-tech jobs. The STEM buzz also fed into concerns about the way subjects were being taught “in silos.” Science and math are long-recognized “core academics,” and the introduction of technology and engineering to the mix was an effort to highlight the need to apply science and math in better integrated curriculum.

The U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) published their first STEM-Designated Degree Program List in 2008, identifying college majors associated with occupations for which foreign workers were needed. In education there were efforts to help students understand rigorous academics by applying science, technology, engineering and math in “real-world” contexts, and assuring that students were developing the 21st century skills that would make them college and career ready. The buzz grew, and there were other groups that saw value in associating with STEM.

Utah has its share of organizations, partnerships and government agencies working to increase participation in STEM including the STEM Action Center. The STEM Action Center was funded in the most recent session of our state legislature, and charged with:

>Supporting instructional technology and related professional development.

>Developing the STEM education endorsement and related incentive program.

>Promoting STEM in middle school, in part through enhancing CTE-Intro.

>Promoting STEM education initiatives that result in certifications in high schools across the state.

So, what’s a person to do? Perhaps this background has only served to confuse you further, but here are the two main points: (1) There is no universally accepted definition of what STEM is. (2) The emphasis you see on STEM is the result of various (and many) efforts to make STEM – be a STEM industry, a STEM program of study, or a STEM occupation – more attractive. You, as a student or potential worker, are being asked to invest your time and other resources (college tuition), so you need to know how to critically analyze the information about STEM being offered. Dr. Kris Dobson (an expert in career assessments, occupational data, and college and career planning), advises everyone who is exploring their college and career options – STEM or otherwise – to ask some key questions as they consider career information:

S – Consider the source of the information. Is it a college or company that is motivated to recruit new students or workers, or is it an organization that is a respected developer of descriptive economic information?

T – Look twice. Think about the information as a whole; does it make sense on the surface? Then break it down to consider specific claims (about STEM industries, education, occupations) that are being made and judge the validity of those claims.

EEvaluate the information based on the methods used to gather, analyze and interpret the data. For example, if information comes from a survey, who conducted the survey, and who (and how many) answered the survey?

M – Finally, ask yourself whether the information is meaningful to you, and – if so – how it can be applied in your decision-making?

In today’s complex world, where information is readily available, but not always of high quality, critical thinking is a key to making good decisions. Is critical thinking a “STEM skill?” What do you think? What do you know about the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in occupations that are of interest to you?

President Obama Supports CTE and Career Pathways

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

By Gary Wixom
Assistant Commissioner for Career and Technical Education
Utah System of Higher Education

February was Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month. All across the country people were celebrating the important contribution that CTE is making to individuals, to communities, to the economy, and to the nation’s labor force as the United States struggles to get its economy moving. The unemployment rate is dropping, but the economy is not growing as fast as it should and one of the reasons is that jobs are still going unfilled because we don’t have enough workers with the skills that are necessary to fill those jobs.

Students graduating from high school today are facing challenges that others who have come before have not faced. Just a few years ago, a high school diploma and a little determination meant a high school graduate could enter many industries and earn a livable wage and launch a career. Today, the chances of that happening are getting slimmer each year.

In the State of the Union address, President Obama indicated that 2014 needed to be year of action, and that our challenge was to help the country to maintain its edge in the global economy. He said, “Here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams.” The President emphasized that career and technical education training that prepared people for work was the key and that we needed more programs that linked high school programs to college programs where students could learn the skills that employers need.

Part of the answer to the needs of the labor market is to have quality CTE programs. Arne Duncan, the secretary of education recently said, “The president and I believe that high-quality CTE programs are a vital strategy for helping our diverse students complete their secondary and postsecondary studies. In fact, by implementing dual enrollment and early college models, a growing number of CTE Pathways are helping students to fast-track their college degrees.”

More and more CTE Pathways are being developed across the state of Utah. These CTE Pathways when fully developed connect the high school sequence of courses to a postsecondary certificate or degree. Students who are engaged in these CTE Pathways are having great success, and finding careers that are fulfilling and provide good wages. Check out the CTE Pathways that are available in your high school and schedule a meeting with your school counselor. He or she will provide you with information about how the pathway you are interested in pursuing will connect to postsecondary training, education, and to a career.

Education Requirements for the Jobs of Tomorrow

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

By Mary Shumway
State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Utah State Office of Education

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released occupational projections for 2012-2022. (You can see the Overview of projections to 2022 in the Monthly Labor Review, December 2013.) The BLS publishes outlook data for a total of 818 occupations, and reports that four occupational groups will likely account for about one-third of the total employment growth. They are: Healthcare, Healthcare support, Construction, and Personal Care.

Occupational projections are just a part of the information developed by the BLS. BLS information of particular interest to students is the education level typically required in order to enter an occupation. BLS analysts assign an education level for each occupation, based on what is typically needed to get that first job – from “less than high school,” to “doctoral or professional degree.” However, the BLS complements the education level with information about work experience and on-the-job training. As most any experienced worker will tell you, being on the job is critical to achieving full competency in almost any occupation. Today’s emphasis on “stackablecredentials” and “lifelong learning” reflects that reality. “Credentials” refer to various forms of validation of skills and knowledge – such as diplomas, certificates and licenses – often pursued as workers come to understand ways of advancing in their careers. “Stackable” describes the way these credentials are often achieved – one stacked on top of another. Stackable credentials, education, experience, and training are all parts of lifelong learning, and your career success will depend on it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The education level assignments made by BLS analysts are reflected in the most commonly-used career information systems, including UtahFutures. It helps you know what education you’ll need to start in an occupation of your choice, but lifelong learning ensures that’s not where your career ends.

What is an Educated Person?

Monday, January 6th, 2014

By Gary Wixom
Assistant Commissioner for Career and Technical Education
Utah System of Higher Education

Every year during the fall, educators from Utah gather in a meeting room to discuss and consider the question “What is an educated person?” Those in the room are not really confused about what an educated person really is, but in defining and considering the topic, educators can make progress in learning how to educate others.

We usually think of education as a process that we go through and at the end we receive a certificate or degree. But education is much more than a piece of paper detailing competencies that we have learned. The philosophers tell us that education is the process of learning about life, and that without education and “truth” we are not really free.

According to Tony McGregor 1, an educated person has some of the following characteristics.

  1. An educated person has empathy and understanding of other people.
  2. An educated person is sensitive to the needs of others.
  3. An educated person has a clear understanding of their own values, wants,
    and preferences without imposing them on others.
  4. An educated person is independent and takes responsibility for their own actions.
  5. An educated person connects and interacts with the world around them.
  6. An educated person is comfortable with who they are, their own feelings and the feelings of others.

Along with the educated person’s characteristics, an individual needs good technical and employability skills. Employability skills are often referred to as “soft” skills and include things like a positive attitude, understanding how to work hard, being able to communicate well with others, being able to work together with others in solving problems, basic computing skills and showing up on time. These skills along with good technical skills are what make a person prepared for a productive future.

Career and Technical Education programs are designed to help individuals gain these skills and move students along the path to becoming educated. As we look to a new year, take a look at the great opportunities that are available through Career and Technical Education programs at your institution. The doors of the future will open for those who are “educated”. Make sure that you are prepared for that future.

1http://hubpages.com/hub/Chracteristics-of-an-educated-person

Mind the Skills Gap

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

By Mary Shumway
State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Utah State Office of Education

You may have heard the phrase, “mind the gap,” a warning to passengers on the London Underground to be cautious as they cross from the station platform into the train.  Equally deserving of careful attention is the skills gap. It seems that there is a constant stream of articles, studies, and statements by people on all sides of this global issue, alerting us to a dim future should we fail to mind the skills gap.  For example, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development reported that adults (ages 16-65) in the U. S. have poor literacy and numeracy skills, despite relatively high educational attainment (OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills). The assessment looked at the cognitive and workplace skills needed to succeed in today’s global economy. A related report focusing on the United States (Survey of Adult Skills, First Results: United States) indicates that there are few signs of improvement. The average basic skills of young adults are not very different from older persons – and basic skills are not only related to employment outcomes, but also to personal and social well-being!

The report reveals much to be concerned about, but an additional report based on the findings, Time for the U.S. to Reskill? What the Survey of Adult Skills Says, lays out policy recommendations to address those concerns. Recommendation 4, in particular, is worth highlighting here:

Link efforts to improve basic skills to employability, recognizing that good jobs open up further learning options, while basic skills can often be more readily acquired in practical contexts.

This is Career and Technical Education! Participating in Career and Technical Education increases the opportunities you have of succeeding in college, career and life. Utah students have the chance to jumpstart their careers by completing a CTE Pathway, which includes Work-Based Learning, being a member of a Student Leadership Organization, and achieving Skills Certificates. Completing a Pathway will help you mind the skills gap!

What Will The Future Look Like?

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

By Gary Wixom
Assistant Commissioner for Career and Technical Education
Utah System of Higher Education

The Great Recession has had an impact on the lives of American citizens that will be felt for a long time to come. Trillions of dollars of American wealth were lost and the impact on employment had disrupted plans of both the young and the old. According to a new study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, what was once a “lockstep march from school to work and then on to retirement no longer applies for a growing share of Americans.”1 In the past, most Americans completed their education, moved onto full-time employment, and then retired at age 65. The education phase of the cycle often was completed at the high school level, and after some on-the-job-training, full-time work was the norm. Today, a new model for this cycle is emerging that includes additional education, changes in employment patterns, longer full-time working careers, and often a transition into retirement.

According to the Georgetown study, blue-collar jobs which used to be widely available have disappeared. As these jobs disappeared many young people have had a difficult time moving fully into the labor market. The labor market is changing rapidly. In 1980 the share of young people in blue-collar occupations was 54 percent. In 2010 this number had decreased to 36 percent. In the year 2000 the employment rate for young adults was 84 percent and by the year 2012 that percentage had decreased to 72 percent. Young adults at all levels were negatively impacted by the Great Recession, but those who had some sort of postsecondary certificate of degree felt the impact the least.

So, how do we prepare for the world where the education and employment cycle is changing? First by becoming college and career ready while in high school, and then by following a pathway that will lead to a certificate or degree, that leads to employment and a livable wage.

Check with your CTE teacher or school counselor about the many exciting CTE Career Pathways that are available to you to follow. Choose the courses that will help move you forward, and be serious about preparing for the future. What your education and employment cycle will look like depends on how well you prepare today.

1Anthony P. Carnevale, Andrew R. Hanson, Artem Gulish, Failure to Launch-Structural Shift and the New Lost Generation, Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Center on Education and the Workforce, September 2013.

 

Three Things You Should Know About CTE and High School Graduation

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

By Mary Shumway
State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Utah State Office of Education

To be ready for life after high school, students first need to graduate. To follow are three often-cited reasons that students drop out (Johnston, J. H. (2010) Dropout Prevention: A Research Brief. Fairfield, CT: Education Partnerships, Inc.,) followed by some examples of ways that Career and Technical Education (CTE) can help prevent students from dropping out.

1.       Academic Factors
Students who receive poor grades are more likely to drop out, but CTE concentrators improved their 12th grade NAEP scores by eight points in reading and 11 in math, while students who took no CTE courses did not increase their math scores and their reading scores improved by just four points. (Department of Education, National Assessment of Vocational Education, 2004) A ratio of one CTE class for every two academic classes minimizes the risk of student dropping out of high school. (Plank et al, Dropping Out of High School and the Place of Career and Technical Education, National Research Center for CTE, 2005)

2.       Occupational Aspirations
Without a clear picture of the opportunities available to them, students are at risk of dropping out. Most careers are made up of a series of jobs, each requiring higher skills and more experience than the one before. By participating in Career and Technical Education, students are exposed to, and prepared for, the first rung on their career ladder. In addition, research shows that CTE students develop problem-solving, project completion, communication, time management, critical thinking and other cross functional skills in demand by today’s employers. (Society for Human Resource Management and WSJ.com/Careers, Critical Skills Needs and Resources for the Changing Workforce, 2008)

3.       Disengaged Students
There are many students who don’t feel connected to their school experience, perhaps even feel that there is no one there who is interested in or cares about them. A recent report (Making the Case for CTE: What the Research Shows, National Center for CTE, 2013) claims that boys, especially, are struggling. But the hands-on, project-based learning strategies that are standard in most CTE programs appeal to a wide variety of students. In addition, students who participate in Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) enjoy higher academic motivation and engagement. (Looking Inside the Black Box: The Value Added by Career and Technical Student Organizations to Students’ High School Experience, National Research Center for CTE, 2007)

Utah CTE Fact Sheet — Career and Technical Education Produces Results