What do you want to be when you grow up?
What a bold question for young people to answer! We always hope that students graduate ready to tackle their futures. But how can they be prepared without knowing what their career goals are? Part of preparing for the future is setting goals, and Career and Technical Education programs help students explore career options, build skills that can be useful in their future, and feel prepared to enter the next step in their career journeys.
The skills gap is a growing concern for industry and business leaders that CTE can help alleviate. How? By offering students the chance to explore some of these “middle” skills that employers are clamoring to find. Even better, CTE programs can cover a wide variety of career fields, so they can build a local workforce aligned to a community’s needs.
Career and Technical Education is here to help students confidently answer what they want to be when they grow up! Read on to learn more about the potential for CTE’s impact on the workforce and student career exploration.
Preparing Students for their Futures
Career and Technical Education takes students from mere interest in a career to building the skills that career requires. Its coursework can take a variety of forms from on-the-job apprenticeships to hands-on learning experiences in a classroom—but the skills are always at the heart of the work. Not every budding CTE program is able to construct a lab full of technical equipment or bring in industry experts to mentor students, but there are many other ways to prepare students for the career of their choice!
One way is to expose students to career profiles that they may never have considered. Discovery Education partners with industry leaders to create learning programs that infuse student interests into the curriculum while ensuring the content is based on real-world career experiences. For example:
- Highlight different agricultural careers with Cooperative Minds
- Spotlight Trane Technologies employees who create energy-efficient indoor environments with Sustainable Futures
- Dive into different positions that contribute to making cities smarter with Conservation Station
- Break into the world of biotechnology with Futurelab+
Whether students are interested in agriculture, sustainability, conservation, or biotechnology, there are ways to help students see how each career is a piece of a larger puzzle and hear first-hand from people working in these roles! A critical step in determining which skills students should learn is first setting goals for what kind of career they’re hoping to take on in the future.
CTE & the Growing Workforce
Whether you teach kindergarteners or 12th graders, those students are the future workforce! Weaving career exploration into K-12 experiences can help students set their sights on a career and learn skills that will prepare them to be successful.
Advance CTE’s National Career Cluster framework offers guidance for skills and industry-standards in 16 different career fields, and many of these industries need workers faster than they can find them! As fields like Healthcare, STEM, Manufacturing, and Information Technology see a major boom, encouraging students to explore these options can help them step into the growing gaps in our workforce and even find a job immediately upon graduation.
STEM is growing at a particularly fast rate, and there are ways to infuse these skills into K-12 coursework that also engage students. For example, Engineering Dreams, the program created in partnership with ASME, helps students turn their passion of problem-solving into an in-demand career in Engineering. And the STEM Careers Coalition can help students imagine themselves as a STEM professional by seeing what skills are used in various related careers at leading companies. These types of learning resources bring careers down to students’ levels and into the classrooms, and introduce skills that help students feel ready to cross over from career-prep to career-ready!
The workforce is an ever-changing landscape, and helping students identify their interests early can help them feel prepared to enter the field of their choice! Career and Technical Education is critical for schools to integrate career preparation and build future-ready students.