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Archive for the ‘Career and Technical Education’ Category

What Will the Future Bring?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

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

What will the future bring? That question is something that we all think about from time to time. We live at a time of turmoil both within the country and internationally. The news is full of discouraging predictions about the future. With all the doom and gloom in the press, it would be easy to become discouraged about our own future. On the other hand, if we just look around, we soon discover that it is a great time to be alive. Technological advances have made life easier and more interesting, and those advancements will continue to come and be a part of our lives changing how we live, learn, and interact with our environment.

As we start into a new year we are often focused on making resolutions, setting goals, deciding to take a different path. The year 2012 will continue to be challenging, but can also be the beginning of new hopes, dreams and accomplishments. Now is a great time to set additional goals for career advancement. The rate of unemployment continues to be a challenge for the nation around 9 percent and even here in Utah it is still around 6 percent. The prediction is that those rates will be with us for the next couple of years. But did you know that there are many great paying jobs that are going unfilled today because there are not skilled workers to fill them. Actually the future for job growth here in Utah is pretty bright.

According to the Career Clusters Forecasting Demand for High School through College Jobs, 2008-2018, the fastest growing job clusters in the nation are Information Technology, Health Sciences, and Human Services. Of all the states, Utah is third in the growth rate for Information Technology. Utah is second for the growth rate for Health Sciences, and Human Services. Each of these Career Clusters provide higher than average wages. So, how can you get one of these jobs? By following one of the Programs of Study that are available in these Career Clusters. You can explore these Career Clusters and also check out the great information available, to help you focus on a particular program of study, on UtahFutures.org.

To get a good paying job in the future, you will have to have specific skills that you can get by following a Career and Technical Education Pathway while in high school and then moving on to certificate, or degree training at a college or university. The possibilities are unlimited—just set your sights high and move forward.

CTE Can Help Address Human Capital Issues

Monday, December 5th, 2011
By Mary Shumway
State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Utah State Office of Education

A national report, Developing Human Capital: Meeting the Growing Global Need for a Skilled and Educated Workforce, recently released by McGraw-Hill’s Adult Education and Workforce Initiatives, underscores the value of Career and Technical Education (CTE) in today’s market. The report notes that – as the area where business and education most overlap, CTE is in a prime position to maximize the efforts of educational institutions and business/industry as they work cooperatively.

The authors suggest “The U.S. and other developed nations need to devote more resources to career and technical education – not just for young people still in school, but even more critically for adults who face barriers to employment due to lack of formal education, English language or other skills.”

You are encouraged to read the full report (which includes a conversation between Association of Career and Technical Education Director Janet Bray, and National Association of Workforce Boards CEO Ron Painter), but here are a few highlights:

Workplace Needs:
Economic, social and technological changes demand corresponding change in the relationship between employers and employees, and between business and education.

  • Technical credentials have the potential to outpace the wages of bachelor’s degree holders.
  • Low-skilled jobs are disappearing. Some other jobs have the same traditional titles, but require new skill sets.
  • The demand for high-skilled, well-trained workers is strong and growing stronger. 71 percent of “growth” jobs through the year 2016 will require postsecondary credentials.
  • “Soft skills,” including the ability to work effectively with others, continue to be important “21st century” skills.

Workforce Realities

  • Approximately one million U. S. high school students a year drop out before obtaining a diploma.
  • Eighty-eight million U. S. adults have at least one major educational barrier to employment (e.g., do not speak English well).
  • As the population ages and baby boomers retire, the percentage of working-age adults with a high school education is destined to decline.

The Remedy

We must define a remedy for the disconnect between education and business. Here are some strategies we propose to assure that CTE programs in Utah better meet the needs of business/industry, and the needs of the students we serve. We must:

  • Continue to work with business and industry partners to ensure alignment of our programs with their needs;
  • Communicate the value of CTE to policy makers to ensure adequate resources;
  • Assure that students and their parents understand the value of participating in CTE Pathways to achieve the associated marketable skills that will help them achieve success in the 21st century workplace.
  • Promote experiences to ensure that students perceive the relevance of their educationto their future lives. Assure students have the information they need regarding:

Graduating from high school and being prepared for career and college will give young people a huge advantage as they progress in life. Partnering with business and industry, CTE can reduce barriers so that students continue to receive the training, academic knowledge, and skills they need in order to be productive, highly-trained employees.

STechnologyEM Careers

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

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

Over the last few years, we have heard a lot about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) occupations. There is no question that STEM occupations are critical to the United States economic competitiveness. Although the number of STEM related occupations represents a small percentage of the total job market, those jobs tend to be occupations that are closely tied to innovation, economic growth and productivity, which are essential elements for any economy to be successful.

Even though STEM jobs will be a small percentage of the jobs available in the future, it is a very important percentage, and we need to make sure that we have enough students prepared to move into these occupations. STEM jobs refer to jobs that are available in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). However, when the term “STEM” is used, most often people immediately think of Science, Engineering and Math. What happened to the “Technology”?

The “Technology” category includes any occupation that requires technical skill, and makes up nearly 50 percent of all STEM occupations. Here are some of the areas that fit into the Technology sector: Accountants, Automotive Technicians, Biotechnology Technicians, Chemical Technicians, Drafting Technicians, Dietetic Technicians, Electronic Technicians, Farm and Ranch Managers, CNC Technicians, Composite Technicians, Mechatronic Technicians, Graphic Designers, Computer and Software Technicians, and the areas of Information Technology. Opportunities in the Technology sectors will continue to increase over the next few years.

Students who are interested in pursuing careers in “Technology” need to get started in high school by taking science and math courses. Sometimes the thought of taking these courses make students think twice about going down this path. However, even those who struggle in these subjects can still be successful in STEM careers. There are many ways to build skills in math and science. Students should look for programs that offer mentoring or tutoring in these subjects. Student organizations can also help, so think about joining a Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSOs), DECA, FBLA, FCCLA, FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA, and TSA. Also, there are courses that can be taken in the evening or the summers that will help build the basic skills that are necessary to be “College and Career” ready.

During the next five years, the demand for students who have the background to move into Science, TECHNOLOGY, Engineering, and Mathematics careers will increase. Wages paid for these occupations will continue to lead wages in all occupations. Take advantage of these opportunities. Think about choosing a CTE Pathway that will lead to an exciting STechnologyEM career.

Read more about the demand for TECHNOLOGY occupations in the STEM Georgetown University Executive Summary.

Are you a member of a Career and Technical Student Organization?

Friday, October 7th, 2011
By Mary Shumway
State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Utah State Office of Education

Are you a member of a Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO)? DECA, FBLA, FCCLA, FFA, HOSA, Skills USA, and TSA are essential leadership organizations where you can gain personal and leadership skills, making you more employable, preparing you to become productive citizens, and assisting you in assuming positive roles in the home and community.

In Utah, 18,573 secondary students participate in a CTSO and more than 1.5 million students participate in a CTSO nationwide. As CTSO members you are doing amazing things and are having a positive impact in your school and community. Participation in a CTSO is an important component of the CTE Pathway you are pursuing. Being involved in a CTSO will not only benefit your life but the lives of those around you.

Participation in a CTSO will provide you with opportunities to learn three skill sets, which business and industry say are necessary in today’s workforce. These skills are:

  1. Academic skills – You will explore career-related tasks aligned with state academic standards.
  2. Technical skills – You will participate in professional development activities and competitive events gain enhanced job-specific knowledge and skills critical to future careers.
  3. Employability skills – You will develop critical workplace skills through teamwork, decision making, critical thinking, leadership, community awareness, career awareness, and personal and social development.

Throughout the month of October CTSOs will be holding their Fall Leadership Conference. Please tell us about the Fall Leadership Conference you attended and what your chapter has planned for the year. Email your stories and calendar items to UtahCTE@schools.utah.gov.

If you are not a member of a CTSO, and would like to become a member, talk to your school counselor to get connected with the CTSO advisor in your school.

Your Educational Suitcase

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

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

Each year when September comes around there is excitement in the air as everyone heads back to school. Elementary, secondary, and college students have the chance for a new beginning and a fresh start at learning. Students and parents of all ages get involved with this process and everyone has a sense of anticipation. A new school year gives everyone an opportunity to think about what they want to accomplish as they add important skills to their educational suitcase. Giving some thought to what you are going to pack in that suitcase this year is a worth taking some time to think about and to set some goals to accomplish.

The media is full of stories about the importance of getting a good education to prepare for the future. Across the country, there is an emphasis on getting all students “college and career ready.” Here in Utah, each student will be expected to have a plan on how to become college and career ready that is carefully thought out by the student, a counselor, and a parent. There are many exciting pathways available for students to follow that will prepare for exciting careers, but success in the future requires serious preparation now.

In Utah, students are encouraged to prepare for and take the ACT test in their junior or senior year. This past year 73 percent of the graduating class took the test. The ACT test provides some valuable information concerning the students preparation for being college and career ready. ACT calls these measures “benchmarks” that students should meet to be prepared for success in the future. Students should look at the ACT “scores” as information on how well they are doing with this preparation.

Many factors need to come together to lead you to being prepared for the future. You should take the right sequence of courses for your chosen pathway. You should be serious about doing your very best work. You should take advantage of career and planning activities that will give you the information to make good decisions.

Working with school counselors, teachers, and parents, all students can be prepared for the future.

Are You College and Career Ready?

Monday, August 8th, 2011
By Mary Shumway
State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Utah State Office of Education
Across the country politicians, business and industry leaders, and educators are asking if you are “college and career ready”. But, what does “college and career ready” really mean? The Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Board of Regents believe all students should have education and career goals that will prepare them to experience fulfilling lives, actively participate as educated citizens, and thrive in a particularly competitive and global marketplace. A college and career ready student is prepared to succeed in college and in postsecondary workforce training programs. Read the College and Career Readiness Recommendations to High School Students and get started!

According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 75 percent of students who start public high school graduate within four or five years. However, more than 90 percent of students who concentrate in career-oriented courses graduate on time. Through participation in a CTE Pathway you will not only be prepared for life after high school, but you will be college and career ready. Secondary CTE Pathways are linked to postsecondary certificate and/or degree programs through articulation agreements with colleges and universities. Talk with your school counselor to learn about concurrent enrollment opportunities.

CTE Pathways provide you with the opportunity to plan, prepare, and be ready for life after high school. Study hard, stay in school, and complete a CTE Pathway and you will be prepared to succeed in college and a career. We wish you a successful school year.

Advocacy for Career and Technical Education

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Gary Wixom, Assistant Commissioner of Academic Affairs, Utah System of Higher Education

The United States is facing some hard economic times. The U.S. Congress is just getting around to passing the 2011 budget, which includes some cuts to Career and Technical Education (CTE). After taking an immediate cut of 2 percent, the Carl D. Perkins funding will lose an additional $138 million dollars in the next year. There is no doubt that Congress must make some “tough” decisions to get spending and the deficit under control. However, CTE plays a critical role in the economic development of the country. CTE educators need to communicate with their representatives to make sure that they understand that training the workforce is critical to our economic recovery.

If you are reading the articles concerning the “recovery”, you are seeing terms like “jobless recovery”. The economy is struggling to show strength, but without an increase in the number jobs being created we are in for a long struggle. It is not that companies are not making money—they are making money and holding on to it. To some degree this is due to lack of confidence in where the country is headed. Large and small businesses are holding on to cash that could be spent on expansion and new jobs, but there is a lack of confidence in the future.

When the economy begins to add jobs, where will they be added? Many of them will be in the areas that CTE programs provide training. If we do not keep our Career and Technical training programs strong, then the problem will shift again to jobs going unfilled due to the lack of trained workers. According to Forbes Magazine, the hottest jobs between now and 2018 will be in the biomedical area, information and data communications, and health related areas. All of these areas are ones that CTE supports by providing training and career pathways for students. What can we do? Help get the story out. Talk to local, state and national representatives and let them know how important strong CTE programs are for the future of the state and the country. CTE: Learning That Works for America™.

Technology in Education

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
By Mary Shumway
State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Utah State Office of Education
Last year Kearns High School was awarded an “Enhancing Education Through Technology” federal grant to purchase iPods to use as a learning tool with their 1,600 students. Students have used the devices throughout the year to download applications, take notes, do Internet research and read textbooks. Teachers say that using iPods in the classroom has given them a new tool to enhance learning and engage students through daily lessons and homework assignments.

The use of digital technology and social media are essential to every classroom in America. In Utah we want to provide students with the best possible education and give them the tools they need to thrive in the workplace and in life. Our short-term goal is to have every school equipped with open access to digital technology and social media. This will take some time, but changes are being made to provide schools will the digital tools students need to successfully work on school projects while at school, using digital technology and the Internet. “Most of Utah’s public school students are ‘digital natives.’ That’s why we are currently crafting a statewide education technology initiative to ensure all Utah high school graduates are prepared with the skills they’ll need to succeed in this new and evolving digital landscape,” says Superintendent Larry Shumway.

Watch how iPods and iPads were used at Viewmont Elementary and Kearns High School this year. 


Tell us how your school utilized digital technology in the classroom this year? Email your stories and/or comments to UtahCTE@schools.utah.gov.

Message from Gary Wixom, Assistant Commissioner, Utah System of Higher Education

Friday, January 14th, 2011

As we move into the New Year, there is always a certain amount of optimism about what is ahead. We have an opportunity to start new approaches to old problems and to set new goals with new enthusiasm. The year 2011 promises to bring new opportunities for Career and Technical Education. There is hope that the U.S. economy will continue on a path of growth and recovery from the worst recession in recent history. As the job market recovers, the need for skilled workers is becoming more apparent, and the critical shortage of skilled workers has many worried about Utah’s and the nation’s ability to meet the needs of the future workforce. Demand is increasing for you to be prepared as “knowledge technologists” with specific education and skills. Career and Technical Education will assist you in obtaining the skills you need to be successful in the workplace. The skills you develop today will directly impact the future of the national and state economy.

One of the ways to achieve the skills you will need for the future is to be involved in a well-defined CTE Pathway. Your school counselor can assist you in planning your educational map.

Career and Technical Education offers Pathways to YOUR future; get started! Talk to your school counselor and visit UtahCTE.org, today.

Have a great year!

Message from Mary Shumway State Director of CTE

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

CTE is making the difference in the lives of students throughout Utah and across the nation. We have talented, skilled, determined, and dedicated educators who are passionate about taking CTE into the next decade of the 21st century. CTE will provide you with the academic and technical skills you need to be college and career ready, and to compete in a global economy. By the year 2018, the economy will create 13.8 million brand-new jobs, and 33 million replacement jobs, nationwide. In Utah, 64,000 new jobs will be created by the year 2018, with replacement job openings accounting for equal shares of the total employment opportunities. CTE continues to make a huge impact in the lives of students. Watch the video clip titled CTE: Making the Difference at http://www.careertech.org/makingthedifference and tell all your friends about CTE, today.