It’s 2015 – the “future” that Back to the Future dreamed about almost 30 years ago. While we don’t have hover boards or self-lacing tennis shoes, we have made some important advances – especially in the classroom. No class has changed more over the last 30 years than Career and Technical Education.
In 1985, Career and Technical Education would have been known as “wood shop” or “metals” or “shop class.” In 2015, CTE classrooms have taken a decidedly different spin – and are a vital part of today’s education. So, what will CTE education look like in the next 30 years?
Emphasis on Technology
In the next 30 years, CTE will rely more heavily on technology – whether computer coding, robotics, or drafting work, technology will play a significant role in technical education. Hands on will always be important, but the way we deliver hands on education are changing today. In 30 years, we will rely more on 3D virtual reality for our education, where students will be able to learn a wider variety of subjects with a single piece of technology. (The future is closer than we think - check out zSpace for next level technology!)
In the next 30 years, 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) will be more prominent when designing and developing new models. Students will be familiar with computer design, and have a greater understanding of how math and visual design work together in the design process. Educators will place a greater emphasis on building knowledge and skills early. In the future, math skills will not only be taught in math class, but taught in the CTE wing as well. As a result, students will have a greater understanding of the hands on applications of math (and other STEM subjects).
A Greater Umbrella
Gone are the days when “CTE” refers only to wood shop. As Career and Technical Education transforms, so do the classes in the CTE wing: CTE can refer to computer programming, to welding, to Business and Marketing, Family and Consumer Science, or Renewable Energy education. In the future, CTE will take on a greater emphasis in career planning and education, making education more customized and efficient for all students. Many schools are already encouraging students to take classes in the CTE wing because it encourages K-12 students to prepare for careers after high school.
Through the Test of Time
Some technologies are tried and true – and the skills will always be relevant. Skills like welding, laser cutting and engraving, and industrial certification training will stand the test of time. These skills will remain relevant, even though techniques will evolve as the need for these skills changes.
Do you need help bringing your CTE programs into the future? Are you looking for ideas to bring your current program into the 21st Century? Our Secondary Education Specialist is here to help – Contact Dan Sorenson for tools and ideas.
“Consider the reality of today’s job market. We have a massive skills gap. Even with record unemployment, millions of skilled jobs are unfilled because no one is trained or willing to do them.” -Mike Rowe
Mike Rowe definitely has a point. There are a lot of misconceptions about skilled labor today – that it’s a career consolation prize or for people not right for college. It’s time to debunk those myths, and help students understand that skills trades are valuable and necessary in today’s world. At Moss, we’re here to help you debunk some of the myths for your students (and clear up a few myths you may have).
Myth #1 – Students are Not Enrolling in CTE Programs
From 3D Printing to Mechatronics to Hydraulics and Pneumatics programs, career and technical educational positions are in high demand. Whether students are learning skills in a high school CTE program, transitioning to college coursework, or are workers looking for more advanced skills to further their careers, skilled trades are in high demand, especially in the heartland where manufacturing drives the workforce.
Myth #2 – Skilled Labor jobs = Factory Work
Skilled labor can mean factory work, yes, but the skills needed to excel in these positions are also required for work in agriculture, aerospace, civil engineering, mechanical drafting, medical technicians, nuclear technicians, robotics engineers and many more. With the right training and skill set, a technical degree can definitely take students off the factory floor.
Myth #3 – Students can’t make a living with Skilled Lab positions
Contrary to popular belief, skilled labor positions are some of the most high-paying entry-level positions today. People with the right skills are in high demand and can command an impressive starting salary upon graduation. Take a look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook for the following positions, or search a field of study here.
Environmental Engineering Technicians
Industrial Engineering Technicians
Myth #4 – All Skilled Labor Jobs are the Same
Skilled labor positions range from construction workers, plumbers, and electricians to robotics operators, mechatronics operators to engineers. Skilled labor is an umbrella term that blankets a very broad field. The variety of work is endless; and the skills are transferable. For example, a wind energy technician has mastered skills in hydraulics and pneumatics, and can turn around and use those skills in construction, agriculture, machine tools, wood processing, offshore, or aerospace fields (to name a few). A student can create their own path once they have mastered these 21st century skills.
Myth #5 – Once a Student Learns a Skill, they are “Stuck” for the Rest of their Careers
When a student learns a skill set, there is a lot of mobility to apply those skills to other fields as the need arises. In the case of the wind energy technician, above, a student has almost endless opportunities for high-paying positions in a variety of fields.
Myth #6 – Skilled Labor Programs are Expensive for the College and the Student
Though some programs require a greater initial investment, high schools and colleges can provide programs that are low-cost and highly effective. From Forklift Operation to pneumatics training, simulation programs provide an affordable alternative to other training programs. When looking for new classroom tools and curriculum, it’s helpful to look for certification programs that offer certifications so you can rest assured that your students are learning the right job-ready skills.
Do you offer the right curriculum to help your students succeed? Take this 6 Question Quiz to find out:
How does your program stack up? Let us know in the comments section!
You have questions about STEM education? You're not alone! We're here to share ideas and provide thought-provoking commentary. Let us know your thoughts!