High school career and technical education (CTE) courses use computers, simulators and other forms of high-tech equipment and digital learning that can be overwhelmingly expensive for districts, Joe Marquez, an educational strategist and adjunct professor, writes for for EdTech Magazine. Such training, however, is important since manufacturing is still one of strongest industries for those without a four-year degree.
To help offset the cost of these programs, the U.S. Department of Education provides about $1.3 billion per year for CTE courses at the elementary, secondary and adult levels. Recently, the Pathways to STEM Apprenticeship program provided $3 million to six states to help CTE students acquire post-secondary education and link them to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Other resources for CTE programs include Project Lead the Way, which develops curriculum for STEM classes, and Advancement Via Individual Determination which offers professional development geared at eliminating the achievement gap, Marquez writes.
Since CTE students often land high-paying jobs right out of high school, local businesses are an ideal place for the students to earn some real-world experience. A 2018 ExcelinEd report recommended that policymakers offer tax credits for businesses who give high school students internships. The report also urges practices that make it easier for students to work face-to-face with industry professionals.
Three federal laws have an impact on CTE programs — the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Schools leveraging these three programs can create better pipelines for students to work in careers that don’t require four-year college degrees, Scott Stump, U.S. assistant secretary for career, technical and adult education, said at a meeting for state school board members in April.
Other models for states short on labor include New Jersey's efforts to use county-run, work-based programs to train high school students to enter the workforce. School leaders are developing relationships with businesses, industries and community colleges to better understand employers’ needs. Unfortunately there are too many applicants for these schools and not enough space for all the interested students to participate.