During a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing Sept, 20, four witnesses representing high schools, governments and industries that need CTE programs to keep up with workforce demands discussed the benefits of career and technical education (CTE) initiatives.
The all were in agreement: CTE works and the key to making it continue to work is to have industries, government, and education providers work together.
Dr. Sheila Harrity, principal at Worcester Technical High School, Worcester, Mass., summed it up: “Successful technical schools require strong links to the community, business and industry, and academic institutions.”
Alvin Bargas, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Pelican Chapter president, gave a great example of how that can work when spoke about the chapter’s involvement in Louisiana’s Course Choice program, which allows students to customize their learning path to prepare for higher education and careers. The chapter currently is offering electrical, pipefitting and welding programs to about 34 students.
Bargas also noted that although CTE options are important, they must align with the industry workforce needs and post-secondary credentials and should never come at the expense of academic rigor.
“Our challenge ahead is to focus our current resources to support CTE programs for in-demand industries that provide students with innovative and flexible training options that stretch from high school to advanced postsecondary credentials,” Bargas said.
John Fischer, who testified for the State Directors National of Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium, had another suggestion: we need to better use virtual and blended learning.
Frank Britt, CEO of distance-education provider Penn Foster, thinks CTE is extremely important, but could use a rebranding effort and that we need more innovative methods to get people who are not currently part of CTE or the CTE discussion engaged.
“One of the lessons learned across all sectors is you have to harness the best of the talent within the sector,” Britt said. “But we live in a world that more connected, more global, and there have to be opportunities for the rest of the non-CTE education world to be part of that conversation.”
An archived video of the hearing and each witnesses’ testimony can be viewed on the subcommittee’s website.