Career & Technical Education: Real Impacts on the Real World

By Emily Kuhn

As Realityworks President Timm Boettcher stated in an Education Week article earlier this year, “There isn’t a day that goes by that you could live without the output of CTE programs. The jobs that require CTE are used everywhere: the mechanics, technicians, engineers, welders… the list goes on.”

Career and technical education (CTE) impacts our lives on a daily basis. Every time you enter an office building, drive over a bridge, turn on a light, start your car or ride the elevator up through a high-rise building, you’re doing so because someone learned CTE skills. By combining academics with job-specific training, CTE prepares youth and adults for a wide range of skilled careers that we use every day.

The Maurzyce Bridge over the Słudwia River in Central Poland is the first entirely welded road bridge and the second welded bridge of any category in the world. It was designed in 1927 by Stefan Bryła, one of the pioneers of welding in civil engineering.

What’s more, CTE is a leader in preparing students for the jobs that our nation will soon need qualified workers to fill. As the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) reports, many of the fastest-growing jobs through 2022 will be in fields like health care, STEM, IT, marketing and the skilled trades – all occupations that CTE prepares students for.

According to ACTE, that preparation is occurring in high schools, community and technical colleges, four-year universities and career centers around the country. In fact, 94 percent of high school students and 13 million post-secondary students are participating in CTE programs today. ( Programs are often the result of partnerships between education and industry, like Western Wisconsin’s student-run Cardinal Manufacturing, an in-school business that helps its students discover careers in welding while gaining an understanding of running a business. As programs grow, CTE evolves to encompass advancing technology and vigorous academics to ensure its students have the technical and employability skills needed by industry today and in the future.

So when you entrust the care of loved ones to home health aides, listen to weather forecasts created by atmospheric scientists, enter payment details into systems monitored by information security analysts, purchase products promoted by clever marketing managers or buy gas pumped through mile-long pipes secured by certified welders – all jobs the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will grow the fastest in the next decade – you will benefit from the output of CTE programs.

How has career and technical education impacted your life? Share your story in the comments below!