You are here

CTE: It’s for Everybody!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

February is CTE Month in Wisconsin—the perfect time to demonstrate just how far career and technical education (CTE) has come. In the past, vocational education was considered an alternative option for students considered to be non-college-bound who, therefore, took courses in the trades or homemaking. Unfortunately, many people have not updated that outlook. Today, CTE is synonymous with career readiness. No matter what your path after high school, whether it’s college or career, CTE is for everybody!

That’s the message CTE teachers can share with their communities during CTE Month. If you ask employers what they are looking for in new hires, they’ll mention some combination of the following:

  • Perseverance or grit
  • Communication, both written and verbal
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership

One way to build these professional or “soft” skills is CTE courses. These encompass a wide array of career options, including health occupations, manufacturing, agriculture, culinary arts, engineering, business, and much more. In fact, while CTE students gain pathway-specific technical and academic skills, they learn the cross-cutting professional skills for success that prepare them for any workplace or postsecondary educational option.

Another effective way to learn soft skills is career and technical student organizations (CTSOs), including DECA, FBLA, FCCLA, FFA, HOSA, and SkillsUSA. Through leadership and team-building conferences and competitions, students get the soft skills they need to move ahead in the world. Everyone needs to know how to shake hands, write a resume or cover letter, and interview for a job. CTSOs provide these skills, too.

So how can you celebrate CTE Month and build support for your program?

  1. Educate staff within the district. Let them know “CTE is for Everybody!” Decorate the biggest bulletin board. Make announcements on your public address system. Post stories about students in CTE courses and CTSOs on your social media accounts. Use the hashtag #WICTEMonth so others can follow you at the state and national levels.
  2. Share the facts about CTE. Here are the facts about CTE in Wisconsin . Your district data steward can provide CTE data specific to your district or your school. How many students take CTE classes at your school? What are the demographics of CTE students?
  3. Make CTE Month official in your village, town, or city. That’ll get a buzz going in your community. It’s already official in Wisconsin .
  4. Educate your community. Publicize through your district or school newsletter and, again, social media sites. Watch for the official news release from DPI.
  5. Hold a CTE open house. Let visitors see your CTE program in action. That’ll build a LOT of buzz.
  6. Hold a recruitment event for the CTSOs in your school. Let students know why CTE is for them!

Let’s face it: Many students are uncertain of what they want to do after high school. But while they’re figuring it out, they can be building soft skills for the career they eventually choose because CTE is for everybody!