As parents, employers, and students question the value of a four year college degree, vocational education is making a comeback. But today’s vocational education is vastly different from the last iteration. Shop class and auto repair have given way to practical classes that prepare students for 21st Century jobs. Moreover, schools and districts are moving away from the practice of streaming students into academic or vocational tracks and, instead, combining these two elements to prepare the next generation of workers for the world that awaits them.
Tesla STEM High School in Washington State has developed a unique approach to preparing its students for their futures. The school is blending “a college-oriented curriculum with one aimed at employment.” Using the example of an AP psychology course that also includes a hands-on forensics lab, which is a “state-approved career and technical education (CTE) course [,]” to give students both the academic foundation and the technical skills they will need to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
You can learn more about this innovative approach to education here.
Across the country at Essex Tech, a former vocational education institution in Massachusetts, the school is showcasing the state’s investment in career and technical education. Motivated by a need to fuel the state’s “economic engine” Massachusetts law makers have funded these schools with an eye to turning out students that are as prepared for the work world as they are for college, particularly in the fields of advanced manufacturing and health sciences.
Find out how students are reaping the rewards here.
With many traditional employers and industries disappearing as the fourth industrial revolution reshapes our economy, America’s middle class is feeling the brunt of this dislocation. For states like New Hampshire that is weathering these economic changes with the additional burden of an aging population and a brain-drain among its youth, high quality career and technical education (CTE) is a way to meet these challenges head on. Manchester School of Technology in New Hampshire has been on a journey to retool it’s curriculum to deliver programs that will prepare students for a “wide range of sought-after careers, from game design and aeronautical engineering to HVAC and nursing [.]” As well as reshaping the curriculum, school leaders are on a mission to reshape perceptions of CTE, starting with parents. “We need to make sure parents are educated about what we can offer,” said Hannigan Machado. They need to understand “that CTE is not for kids who are dummies, or don’t go to college. Every program here, we encourage kids to go to college or earn a certification.”
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