Arizona currently has more job openings than workers to fill them and the key to keep growing the state’s economy is to have schools produce more skilled workers. Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are aiming to do just that by teaching students skills needed for a modern-day workforce.
“Today’s CTE is about creating inspiration, cultivating vision and supporting innovation,” the Association for Career Technical Education of Arizona (ACTEAZ) explains on their website. “The last 100 years have seen advances in almost every aspect of civilization. CTE is the bridge education needs to enable our students to not just succeed but to thrive in this ever-changing world.”
Between 2012 and 2022, there will be more than 50 million job openings for CTE graduates according to Applied Education Systems (AES).
“I personally do think [CTE] is a great way to get kids towards a career. Sometimes they forget that school is supposed to head towards a future. CTE really helps them to see that school is to go learn about a job and find your way in life,” Katy Gazda, a biotechnology instructor at Red Mountain High School, said. “It offers the students hands-on activities. It gives them not only an idea of what the profession is, but they actually get to live the career and try the techniques and see if they enjoy them.”
CTE programs, originally called vocational education, are a “proven to work” educational philosophy that teaches students skills needed in a modern workforce.
According to research, CTE students are ten percent more likely to graduate high school than their non-CTE counterparts, and 96 percent of those graduates enter the workforce, join the military, or enroll in a postsecondary institution.
CTE has 16 different tracks students can take based on different tech-based and career-oriented skills.
Those tracks include health science, business, sales, finance, IT, STEM, manufacturing, logistics, hospitality, government, law, agriculture, HS, construction, training, and arts.
“I think that they’re really beneficial because they help prepare you and give you real-life training and skills, so, that when you do go out into the real world you can get a job [and you] learn how to work with people when you’re in tough situations you’re [not] like ‘I wasn’t prepped for this.’ You know how to handle it, you know how to be a leader, and you know how to be a listener,” Brianna Brouse, a local CTE student, said.
February has honorarily been Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month for a few years now but this year Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ) officially proclaimed it as CTE Month in Arizona.
“Our education leaders are creating the ‘shop’ classes of the 21st century. It’s called Career and Technical Education, CTE. Today, students in these programs are training to become nurses, pilots, pharmacists, bankers, firefighters and software developers, all before graduation,” Ducey said in his 2019 State of the State address.
In his proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget, Ducey is proposing $10 million towards strengthening CTE programs throughout the state, with a $1,000 per student incentive payment to schools for each high school graduate who earns an approved industry certification in specified industries experiencing shortages.
The Association for Career and Technical Education estimates that for every $1 of government funding towards CTE, taxpayers can earn as much as $12.20 in benefits, meaning if Ducey’s budget passes Arizonans could see almost $122 million in economic benefits.
“Career and Technical Education is critical to Arizonans’ success. These are programs we plan to build, expand and align with the jobs of tomorrow,” Ducey said.