12 Eye-Opening Stats About Health Care Careers

Today’s health care students are unique.

They’re tech-savvy. They have short attention spans. They love to learn, but they are not afraid to ask “why?” – why are you teaching them this task, why are they practicing that concept, why are they studying this topic?

One way to answer those questions is to show your health care students just how in-demand health care careers are. Doing so will give them a better understanding of why the skills they are learning are so important.

This infographic contains 12 eye-opening statistics about health care careers. Download it today to give your students a daily reminder of the career opportunities you are preparing them for.

Learn more: Our webinar, Cool Tools for Engaging Today’s Healthcare Students, explores innovative classroom resources for teaching healthcare students with short attention spans, excellent technology skills and a desire for authentic, real-world learning experiences. Watch it here.

Welding Implementation in the 21st Century

Skilled welders are more in demand than ever before. The American Welding Society estimates that by 2020 – just two years away – there will be a shortage of 290,000 professionals, including inspectors, engineers, welders and teachers.

For welding instructors and trainers, launching a new welding program, or reinventing a current one, can seem like a daunting task. There are a lot of questions to ask including what equipment will help students the most, and what curriculum is out there to help you get started.

We’ve used feedback from welding instructors across the country to develop the Welding Solutions Implementation Guide, which will help you to walk through all of these questions and more.

The four key areas that have been identified as key to the 21st Century Welding Classroom are:

1. Welding Simulation Lab

  • Explore careers, foundational learning, provide more arc time
  • A safe, cost-effective way to teach welding fundamentals

2. Live Welding Booths

  • Corrective guides, immediate feedback, classroom management
  • A one-of-a-kind solution for guidance inside the welding helmet during live welding

3. Visual Weld Inspection

  • Assessment and correction techniques, quality inspection
  • An instructional aid to teach weld defects and discontinuities

4. Destructive Weld Testing

  • Prepare for careers, self-assessment
  • Challenge students to test their own welds and determine what went wrong

By combining these four areas into a welding program, you can help set your students up for success. Click here for more information and to see the complete guide.

15 Ways to Teach Soft Skills in Your CTE Classroom

What are soft skills?

Soft skills, employability skills, job-readiness skills, emotional intelligence… there are many phrases used to describe these skills, but they all mean one thing: they are the personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. They’re considered the “bedside manner” of the workplace.

We’ve heard others say, and we agree – hard skills might get you in the door for an interview, but soft skills will help you get, and keep, a job. And most importantly, that concept applies for ANY job – soft skills are vital for all career paths.

What makes them so vital?

According to a 2016 PayScale survey of more than 60,000 managers and 14,000 recent graduates:

  • 46% of managers said young workers would do well to hone their communication skills
  • 44% of managers reported a lack of leadership qualities.
  • 36% reported lower-than-needed interpersonal and teamwork skills.
  • 60% of managers claim the new graduates they see taking jobs within their organizations do not have the critical thinking and problem-solving skills they feel are necessary for the job.
  • 57% of manager say they look for a candidate that is organized and can manage multiple projects.

Research like this can be found everywhere – and what’s more, educators are seeing it firsthand.

So what can you do to help your students learn these vital skills? You may not know it, but you are already teaching soft skills all the time – it might simply be a matter of emphasizing particular skills, adding time for reflection, etc. Here are 15 ways that you can address soft skill development in your classroom, building on what you’re already doing and incorporating new ideas, to help your students develop those important job-readiness skills no matter what pathway they’re on.

15 ways to teach soft skills in your CTE classroom

  1. Keep soft skills top of mind!
  2. Begin each class with a handshake
  3. Role play workplace scenarios
  4. Practice professionalism on a daily basis
  5. Implement networking activities
  6. Make intentional assignment tweaks
  7. Regularly assign collaborative work
  8. Remember to reflect
  9. Informal and formal oral speaking opportunities
  10. Use small talk conversation cards
  11. Practice giving and receiving feedback
  12. Use video diaries
  13. Coordinate mock interviews
  14. Use student planners
  15. Consider the RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program

Watch the webinar below for more details on these 15 key tips for incorporating soft skills in your classroom:

A Recipe for Creating Careers

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.

When Fax Machines First Came on the Market

By Diane Ross, M.Ed., Realityworks Senior Field Account Manager for NC, SC, VA, WV

When fax machines first came on the market, a friend told me a story about one of her sales.  She had gone into an office and sold them a fax machine.  She taught the office manager how to use it and everything was good until the next morning.  She was listening to her messages when that same office manager called and said, “I can’t get this fax thing to work.  I keep putting the paper in the machine, but it keeps coming out the other end.”  Funny as it was, just imaging the recipient who kept getting the same fax, over and over.

This reminds me of how far we have come with technology.  It also reminds me of how important it is to have students demonstrate their learning before moving on.

I work for a company that works to reach students by allowing them to try something difficult (or dangerous), in a realistic setting so that they can make better life choices.  They can try their hand at welding, or take a cow apart and feel the ruminant’s texture, or they can see what it is like to care for an infant.

We now start talking to kids about making career choices as early at sixth grade.  This really isn’t too early because the world is a very big place.  Waiting until they are entering high school and using the old ‘tell them over and over the importance of choosing a good career’ doesn’t work with today’s kids.  They want to feel it, touch it and experience it and they want to know what’s in it for them.

One exercise I’ve seen going on is creating a PERSONAL BUDGET.  You can start this in middle school.  Have the student create a monthly budget.  Where do you want to live, then research apartment rents. Don’t forget about utilities.  Do you want a car?  You’ll need insurance and gas.  What about food?

Put this budget together, then start looking at careers.  How much do they pay?  What schooling with they need?  Can they work while in schools?  How much money will you need to support your life?  What careers meet these financial goals.  I think it is important to talk to kids about their financial goals.  How do they want to live?  What is important?  Then, show them how to get to those goals.

Realityworks’ Employability Skills Program can help you get started with these conversations. Our products will help you continue the conversations and allow student to gauge their interest in a field before they commit money toward a goal they really don’t know much about.

For a great overview of what Realityworks has to offer take a look at our 2017 Product Lineup or visit our Products on our website.

Welding Pays Off: The Importance of “Upskilling” in Today’s Welding Education Programs

By Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager

Every April, educators, students and business leaders come together to bring awareness to and speak about the value of welding. National Welding Month is an annual celebration and recognition of welding’s impact on our world and the important role it plays in our everyday lives. Now is the perfect time to consider just how important it is that our welding students have the skills they need to succeed.

The demand for skilled welders is growing. The American Welding Society predicts a need of almost 200,000 welders in the United States by 2020, while the Manufacturing Institute has stated that in the next decade alone, there will be a need for nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs.

To ensure the welding industry is prepared to meet this demand, today’s welding educators and instructors must make certain that their programs and training methods are equipping today’s young people with the skills employers are looking for. And, in a workforce that will increasingly require those who are agile, adaptable and highly qualified, “upskilling” students above and beyond the fundamentals of welding will only make them more employable in a competitive, high-demand industry.

Skills pay off

With an oversupply of entry-level welders and a growing number of skilled welders ready to retire, welding and manufacturing companies are paying more and more attention to welding codes and qualification standards. This means welders who are certified, or who are able to examine and test their own welds, are more attractive than ever before – and their pay reflects that attraction. According to the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International’s “2013 Salary/Wage & Benefit Survey,” a welder who is certified to AWS, ASME and other codes has the broadest salary range of any shop floor position, up to $83,000 for a base salary, not including overtime and bonuses.

While having basic welding skills can certainly pay off, other skill sets can also pay large dividends. Figure 1 depicts the many paths one can take when considering a welding-related career. For instance, the chart shows the average pay for a welding supervisor and a manufacturing production supervisor. With reported average pay ranges around $12,000 higher than an average welder, these highly skilled positions are rewarded with higher pay.

When speaking with various workforce development boards and companies within the welding industry, it’s not uncommon to hear welding and manufacturing industry representatives say that they routinely pay more per hour for employees who can visually inspect welds and supervise others in the creation of quality welds over those who could simply create the quality welds.

Barring geography, experience, skill level and employer, the message is clear: By focusing on basic skill development and the development of additional career-specific skills such as weld testing and qualification, educators and trainers are opening the doors to higher pay, more benefits and in the long run, more successful careers.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of “Welding Productivity.” Click here to view the article in its entirety.

Instructor Uses In-Helmet Guides to Boost Student Confidence During Live Welding

by Emily Kuhn

For Hutchinson Community College Welding Technology Instructor Greg Siepert, Realityworks’ guideWELD™ LIVE real welding guidance system is a portable, easy-to-use way to rid seasoned welders of bad habits and boost the confidence of first-time welders.

“We struggle with confidence a lot,” said Siepert, who teaches the first year of this Kansas vocational school’s two-year welding program. “When students are in the booth, I can’t tell them in the middle of a weld that they’re right where they need to be, but when they don’t know, even if it looks right, they aren’t confident in their ability. This system gives them real-time feedback on what they’re doing and if it is right or wrong, and it builds their confidence.”

That real-time feedback is provided inside the welding helmet on work angle, travel angle and arc speed during live, arc-on welding. It occurs in the user’s periphery vision, similar to the manner in which video games communicate information to players on-screen or cars communicate speed and mileage to drivers from the instrument panel. With the guideWELD LIVE helmet in place, users see real-time guides on the right and left sides of their vision, and can focus on those guides or their weld as needed during a weld.

The guideWELD LIVE system, which works with almost any MIG welding machine, consists of a welding helmet, speed sensor board and hand sensor. Once the user has calibrated his or her welding gun, he or she can turn on all three indicators simultaneously or focus on only one or two at a time.

“The big application for this system is for those who are struggling with those basics,” said Siepert. “You can give this to them, show them the indicators and watch them make the change.”

According to Siepert, a lack of confidence is a common problem among his first-year welding students. He shared the story of one student who had the skills down but “didn’t feel right about his welds.”

“I had him work with it for 30 minutes,” Siepert recalled, “and he came back and said he got it – and his welds had vastly improved. So did his confidence.”

Although Siepert teaches a beginning welding program, his classes often include students with a range of backgrounds and experiences. In addition to reinforcing basic welding technique and positioning, Siepert also found the guideWELD LIVE system to be a useful supplement for retraining.

“This system is good for students who come out of industry or another program or from being taught at home and had bad habits,” said Siepert. “Habits are hard to break, and this would help – they would know exactly what to correct in real time.”
Being able to easily introduce the system to students of different technical abilities was key, according to Siepert, who started using it with a class of varying abilities. Some students had never welded before, some had some education and one was a displaced worker with no formal education but years of experience.

“The setup is phenomenal because it’s quick and fast,” said Siepert. “I could pick the system up and move it to a booth, and it didn’t involve any modification of what I did. All I had to do was show the student how to use it.”

As Siepert pointed out, however, being able to successfully introduce the system to a new student goes beyond just getting them started. For those who have never seen this kind of technology in a welding shop before, successful implementation can mean establishing an understanding of why this type of tool works – and that it is OK to use.

“As welding education improves and technology improves along with it, and we slowly start moving away from how it’s been done for years, there’s still a consensus that if there are supporting teaching aids used, it’s a walk of shame,” said Siepert. “We’re trying to fight that… this system adds another level to their education.”

The guideWELD LIVE system includes curriculum, which features units on safety, welding defects and welding procedure specifications. Presentation slides, teacher guides, worksheets and tests are provided as well.

“Any time you can take away frustration and build confidence, you gain retention,” said Siepert. “This system is a stepping stone from the virtual world to the real world.”

Reflections on VISION 2016: Why I’m Proud of the Realityworks Team

By Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc.

2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

Last week, the Realityworks team had the pleasure of exhibiting our experiential learning tools at the largest gathering for Career and Technical Education professionals across the country: the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE)’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference. As President and CEO of Realityworks, Inc., and a member of ACTE’s Board of Directors, I was extremely proud to be exhibiting and presenting at such a gathering for several reasons

We debuted over a dozen new products for technical education. Educators have long been telling us of their need for innovative new ways to provide targeted skills training and prepare their students for careers. As Chair of the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition and the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, I have seen first-hand the importance of ensuring that today’s students have the chance to learn relevant job skills. The Realityworks team worked hard over the last year to research and design several new products that help educators engage students and prepare them for success in the workforce, and the ability to get live, in-person feedback from the very professionals we designed them for is truly exciting.

Timmothy Boettcher of Realityworks at ACTE's CareerTech VISION 2016

Watch Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc., review Realityworks’ new products at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference, which took place in Las Vegas December 1 & 2.


We connected with our customers. We wouldn’t be the company we are today if it weren’t for the dedicated, passionate educators who support us. From the teachers who first used RealCare Baby® (our flagship product) over two decades ago to those who now implement our new Geriatric Simulator in their health occupations programs and our virtual reality welding simulator in their welding programs, we are thankful for each and every one of them – and we jump at the chance to thank them in person.

We created and fostered partnerships with educators. We are dedicated to meeting the needs of 21st Century educators, and are excited to announce several new solutions to help them engage their students and prepare them for success in the workforce. Attending events like ACTE allows us to learn what educators are struggling with in the classroom and what they are interested in exploring in the upcoming year. That knowledge gives us insight into what is on the horizon for Career and Technical Education, which, in turn, helps ensure we can create products and programs that are truly useful to today’s educators.

Our success as a company depends on remaining profitable, yet profitability alone does not define our success. We measure our impact by how many lives are changed in positive ways, and how profoundly they are changed, as a result of our efforts. The recent Career and Technical Education conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our employees and our customers, and I am already looking forward to next year.

Closing the Skills Gap: Progress Occurs when Education & Industry Collaborate

By Timm Boettcher, Realityworks President & CEO

Note: This article originally appeared in the September 28 issue of TheFabricator.com. Read the original post here

According to a report issued by the Pew Research Center, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 years old every day for the next 20 years. This means that over the next two decades, there is the potential for thousands of new jobs to become available that must be filled to strengthen the nation’s workforce, economic health, and global competitiveness.

However, two-thirds of hiring managers say they struggle to find talented people to fill job openings.

This skills gap, or disparity between the skills job-seekers have and the skills employers need, can be seen in industries across the nation. For instance, the Manufacturing Institute reports that about 2 million of the nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs probably needed in the next decade will be unfilled because of a lack of qualified workers.4 The American Welding Society (AWS) estimates that by 2020, there will be a shortage of 290,000 welding professionals.

Furthermore, the U.S. is losing ground in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills in addition to basic skills like literacy and problem solving.6 Businesses are looking not only for technical, job-related skills, but critical thinking, communication, and life skills. Simply too many jobs are available that the unemployed are inadequately trained for.

Through collaboration, industry and education can develop the training and skill development that workers need to fill the thousands of vacancies created by retiring baby boomers in upcoming years and fill the jobs this country needs to remain globally competitive.

Filling the Skilled-Worker Pipeline

Years of research and collaboration have led the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition (IWNC) to view CTE programs as the cornerstone of building a pipeline of skilled workers and closing the skills gap across the country. Contrary to the notion that CTE programs lead to low-wage jobs that cannot compete with those available to four-year college graduates, today’s CTE programs are robust. They combine rigorous academics with relevant, career-specific training—a combination that often leads not only to a high school diploma, but an industry-recognized credential or certificate and a college degree.

In fact, the average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 90 percent, compared to a national average of 75 percent. More than 70 percent of secondary students concentrating on CTE pursued postsecondary education shortly after high school.7 By engaging students with relevant, career-focused training and academic education, CTE programs can help provide the training necessary to close the skills gap and prepare today’s students for college and career.

This combination of education and training would not be possible without collaboration between industry and education leaders. Such collaboration ensures that CTE programs are providing job-specific technical skills for careers after high school; strong foundations for further postsecondary education; and even the critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, teamwork, creativity, and personal accountability that employers need in their employees.

By partnering with educational institutions, business leaders can help ensure the availability of workers with the skills and abilities businesses need for economic success.

Examples for Success

In December 2011 the Atlantic Council and PricewaterhouseCoopers hosted top business leaders, government entities, and academia to discuss the nation’s skills gap and offer solutions. One of those solutions was that businesses and schools must act collectively to address training issues, a proposal that remains vital today.


Following are a few examples of this collaboration:

  • To help ensure the availability of skilled welders in North Carolina, Caterpillar Inc. partnered with Lee County Schools, Central Carolina Community College, and the North Carolina Department of Commerce to establish a welding youth apprenticeship program. Through this two-year program, which is the largest apprenticeship program in the state, students take welding and manufacturing-related classes in their final years of high school, then train at the college, and eventually work part-time at Caterpillar.

    The program, which was established in 2012, has become an innovative and practical way for industry to fill a pipeline of skilled workers while ensuring that students leave school with marketable skills. By having the opportunity to weld alongside actual Caterpillar employees and get real-world experience, students leave the program not only with academic knowledge, but also with technical skills they can use to succeed in the workforce and in continuing education.

  • The Midwest Training Center for Climate and Energy Control Technologies in Topeka, Kan., which opened in January 2013, was established through a partnership between Trane, Washburn Tech Continuing Education, and the National Coalition of Certification Centers. It uses rigorous curriculum, high-tech equipment, and industry-approved certification methods to provide training in a number of industry sectors, including energy, transportation, and advanced manufacturing. Because the center uses industry-certified training tools and curriculum, program participants graduate with the skills they need to succeed in an in-demand workforce, and with appropriate energy industry certifications. They are ready to seek some level of employment in a field that is estimated to grow 21 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2020.
  • Business leaders can also collaborate with schools by hosting tours of their facilities for students, engaging in speaking opportunities, and even mentoring students. To generate more excitement about business education in high school students, Barrington High School, Barrington, Ill., reached out to local business leaders in 2014 to establish a Business Incubator Startup course.

    This unique course places students in groups to determine a product or service idea, then pairs the groups with local business leaders to research, develop, and eventually pitch their ideas to investors. Business leaders serve as coaches and mentors, guiding groups of students through the real-world process of creating, developing, and validating a business plan.

Giving students hands-on experience, this program teaches both technical skills and soft skills they can apply in careers and post-secondary education.

Like the Barrington High School business course, CTE programs developed through industry-education collaboration bring purpose to participants’ learning experience and future plans while helping meet the workforce needs of local and regional businesses.


  1. http://www.pewresearch.org/daily-number/baby-boomers-retire/
  2. https://www.randstadusa.com/corp/salary-guides/randstad-pharma-2014-workplace-trends-report.pdf
  3. http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2012/09/10/10-businesses-that-will-boom-in-2020
  4. http://www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/Research/Skills-Gap-in-Manufacturing/Skills-Gap-in-Manufacturing.aspx
  5. http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-03-20/skilled-welder-shortage-looms-in-u-dot-s-dot-with-many-near-retirement
  6. http://www.usnews.com/news/ stem-solutions/articles/2014/10/29/national-science-board-stem-data-explorer-highlights-education-jobs-growth?int=a1e909
  7. https://www.acteonline.org/cte/#.VUo3NflViko
  8. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm 

Announcing Free Welding Career Exploration Curriculum

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager and curriculum specialist

Welding is widely used in many areas, including construction, manufacturing and other industries. A background in welding can also lead to opportunities in education and management. Unfortunately, the gap between the skills job-seekers have and the skills employers need is continuously widening; the American Welding Society estimates that by 2020, there will be a shortage of 290,000 welding professionals.

We want to do our part to prepare today’s students with job-specific technical skills and provide them with essential opportunities to learn more about these needed careers. That’s why we created our RealCareer Welding Career Exploration curriculum, which takes a closer look at the variety of welding career opportunities available today.


Our RealCareer Welding Career Exploration curriculum contains six lessons that examine the variety of welding careers available today.

In this free, six-lesson curriculum, students participate in a series of activities, research projects and more. Each lesson includes specific step-by-step instructions, measurable objectives, and materials lists. The curriculum aligns to the Common Career Technical Core standards.

Lessons topics include:

  1. Careers in Manufacturing and Production Welding
  2. Career Opportunities in Welding Fabrication.
  3. A Day in the Life of a Welding Engineer.
  4. Exploring a Career in Welding Quality Assurance or as a Certified Welding Inspector
  5. Looking Into a Career as a Pipe Welder.
  6. Exploration of Other Welding-Related Careers.

To access our RealCareer Welding Career Exploration curriculum, click here.

Looking for more career exploration resources for career & technical education programs? Consider the additional curricula we offer:

  • RealCareer Employability Skills curriculum. This free curriculum was created to help students in any program learn the important soft skills needed to prepare for a careers. It features six lessons, which can be used as a standalone unit or as a supplement to an existing career exploration program.

How do you plan to implement this career exploration curriculum in your welding program? Share your ideas in the comments below!