This blog post was written by Naheed Huq for Semcog.org on February 6, 2018. Click here to view the original story on Semcog.org.
Every year in February, students, educators, business, and industry celebrate CTE Month®, an opportunity to raise awareness and celebrate the achievements of Career Technical Education.
CTE programs provide students with technical and work-ready training for some of the fastest-growing industries in Michigan, while also equipping students with essential workplace skills and credentials in 16 career clusters. These include occupations in health science, information technology, and manufacturing. The high-school graduation rate of CTE students is an impressive 96 percent, about 15 percent higher than the total student body. In addition, more than 80 percent of CTE students pursue two- or four-year college after graduating high school.
With initiatives such as the SEMCOG/MAC Technical Career Continuum, SEMCOG has been supporting CTE for several years as a way of providing students with a broad range of career options based on their interests, aptitudes, and professional goals.
Last week, about 600 CTE educators, counselors, administrators, and industry and labor partners connected at the annual Michigan Career Education conference to share best practices, hear about state initiatives to grow CTE, and learn about new resources to help students find out more about high-demand careers.
Uniting to maximize results
Raising awareness of CTE programs and positive outcomes needs to be a joint effort by educators, counselors, businesses, and policy makers who all benefit when students succeed. Students throughout Michigan need information, guidance, and support to see the opportunities in CTE.
The Michigan Career Pathways Alliance is a statewide effort geared to 17 strategies. These include broadening career awareness and promoting career planning; increasing career counseling and curriculum flexibility; and expanding CTE statewide. SEMCOG, along with several of our education members and partners, has joined more than 100 education, business, and labor organizations to support the alliance.
Roger Curtis, Director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development (TED), and Brian Whiston, Michigan Superintendent for Public Education, are leading this initiative because career pathways is a combination of education, economic development, and community support. A combination of legislative and administrative changes are necessary to achieve the ultimate goal of developing a workforce to help fill high-paid, in-demand positions that will support Michigan’s future economic growth.
The Michigan Legislature is considering several proposals. These include:
- Requiring the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to develop or adopt a model program of instruction in career development that would define learning targets for each grade;
- Incorporating career development education within core instruction; and
- Engaging parents, business, and the community.
The shortage of teachers with industry experience is one of the main challenges to providing enough CTE programs. One proposal would allow teachers to count time spent with local employers and other out-of-class experiences toward their professional certification, while another would focus on expanding the CTE teacher pool.
The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is leading efforts to implement several alliance recommendations. These include requiring career exploration and jobs readiness education as part of school improvement plans and requiring that state-funded CTE programs lead to an industry-recognized credential.
MDE has also developed a CTE playbook to help districts develop CTE programs. The State of Michigan has invested in updated equipment and other resources to help student receive “a well-rounded education.” This includes student-focused online databases to raise awareness about different careers to increase interest. Some of these include:
- Career Pathfinder, a free online career planning tool created by the Michigan Talent Investment Agency designed for students, parents, counselors, and job seekers.
- MI Bright Future, developed by the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) in collaboration with local intermediate school districts, to help link the workforce with (current and future) career openings.
- The Wayne County Workforce Inventory, a resource developed by Wayne RESA to help educators assist students with career exploration and planning.
As we celebrate CTE Month, we should also remember it is just as important to raise the awareness of parents about in-demand skills, qualifications, and growing industries and occupations. Real success depends upon building parental support for professional trades as well as the many other careers for which CTE prepares students. Ultimately, students, parents, educators, and business all benefit from the academic rigor, practical experience, and industry credentials provided by Career Technical Education.