Written by: Rachel McKinney // Apex AOIT class of 2016
Vocational education is out, CTE (Career Technical Education) is in.
So what’s the difference? 20th century vocational classes aimed to teach students skills to land them jobs straight out of high school. These old fashioned auto mechanics and woodworking classes taught students the basic skills they needed to put them on track for employment. This typically narrow track of vocational training was often segregated away from the ‘college prep’ classes and geared to fill jobs in the industrial age.
However, the aim of 21st century CTE classes are vastly different. While the goal of any form of education is to increase the chance of success in the workforce, CTE encourages post-secondary education, which in turn will increase their earning power. Of course auto mechanics and woodworking classes are still available, but the spectrum of classes offered now expands to applied sciences and technology, giving students a wide variety of classes to choose from based on their interests. The most popular CTE class options of this era include health sciences and information technology. Even woodworking and auto classes have changed over the years with many high school courses now involving computerized equipment, and electronics. In today’s economy and global age CTE courses are ready to prepare students for jobs that require much different skills than in the past.
Even today, the stereotype remains that CTE classes are much easier than ‘college prep’ classes. The reality is that CTE classes can be a challenging, rewarding experience for all kinds of students, no matter what their post-high school education plans may be. Senior Michelle Linton, who is currently taking ECommerce II, agrees saying, “CTE classes aren’t for lazy people who want an easy A… they can be very challenging and frustrating, so you have to be prepared to work hard.” With 85% of students completing at least one CTE class in high school according to the National Association of CTE Consortium the vast majority of high school students are having a chance to get valuable real world experience.