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CTE: Five Ways That Pay

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

Now is the time to prepare for life after high school. Through career exploration in middle/junior high school you discovered your interests, likes and dislikes. You also learned about classes and training related to your career field of interest as you advanced to high school. In high school you are encouraged to participate in a CTE Pathway where CTE courses align with postsecondary programs and employer based training. This connection provides the foundation for postsecondary training resulting in an industry-based certification, a postsecondary certificate, or an associate degree. CTE arms you with the academic knowledge and technical skills for ongoing success in college, career, and life.

A new report released by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce outlines five areas where students can focus in order to obtain education and train for careers. The report, Career and Technical Education: Five Ways That Pay Along the Way to the B.A., found that there are 29 million jobs (21 percent of all jobs) that pay great middle-class wages (above $35,000 per year and below $95,000 per year) and don’t require an expensive Bachelor’s degree. The report lists five alternative paths to middle-class jobs: employer-based training, postsecondary certificates, registered apprenticeships, industry-based certifications, and associate degrees.

CTE programs are more affordable than traditional college programs and can give graduates access to on-the-job training that help them succeed in the labor market. Research shows that CTE programs provide a good return on public investment. In fact the average employment rate of a person with a CTE upper secondary degree is 75.5 percent, 4.8 points higher than for those with a general upper-secondary degree. At least some postsecondary education or training has become the entry-level requirement for many jobs. By the year 2020, two out of three jobs will require some postsecondary education or training.

In Utah, the school districts, the Utah College of Applied Technology (UCAT) and higher education institutions are working together to ensure that employer-based training, postsecondary certificates, registered apprenticeships, industry-based certifications, and associate degrees are developed and accessible for students throughout the state. Participation and completion of a CTE Pathway, in high school, will provide you with the academic knowledge and technical skills to have a competitive edge and to compete successfully in a global economy.

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