By Diane Ross, M.Ed., Realityworks Senior Field Account Manager for NC, SC, VA, WV
Creating Careers, not preparing students for a job. That’s the message I took away from a recent meeting with Dr. David Barbour with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. During our time Barbour, an education consultant for Career and Technical Education (CTE), discussed how and why his department is focusing on Creating Careers, not simply preparing students for a job.
The main reason for resistance Barbour hears from parents who may be reluctant to encourage children to take CTE Course is based on an old premise. Many still believe students should get trained for a job at a company and work at that job their entire lifetime. That just isn’t how companies work anymore. Some manufacturers get bigger, others are absorbed by a new industry or the products become outdated and the company chooses to go out of business. This has left some parents facing unemployment late in life. The adage of getting and staying at a job your whole life no longer works today.
The Recipe for Success
Barbour is embracing a whole new way of looking at preparing students for the workforce: he calls it ‘prepare for careers, prepare for education’ (education, work, education, work). He believes that schools need to prepare students for a career, not just a job. This means learning skills and getting a job, then pursuing more education and moving up the job/career ladder. Through this recipe for Creating Careers, students are prepared to work for any company because they have the basic premise of how a company operates and are continually building skill and knowledge. The employee becomes a lifelong learner, continuing to advance in their career and ready to move into a new and better job.
A Bright Future
Nationwide, the graduation rate for students enrolled in a CTE Concentrated course is 13% higher (90%) than students enrolled in other courses. More than 75% of secondary CTE concentrators pursued postsecondary education shortly after high school. This supports that ‘education’, ‘work’, ‘education’, ‘work’ thinking. Building a career is personally rewarding, creates a strong workforce and allows people to thrive. CTE is truly a key element to building a bright future for our emerging workforce.