Students in Missouri will have more opportunities to participate in Career and Technical Education (CTE) through partnerships between secondary and post-secondary institutions, as representatives from each recently reported to the State Board of Education and the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.
Dr. Jim Welker, superintendent at Cape Girardeau 63 School District, and Eddie Stephens, associate vice president of Career & Technical Education at Crowder College, presented information from Chamber of Commerce on-site visit reports and discussed expanded relationships between local Career and Technology Centers and both two- and four-year colleges around the state to promote the growth of CTE opportunities.
“We’re preparing our students for success outside of the classroom, and career and technical education helps connect classroom academics with real-world skills,” Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said.
With a lack of skilled workers – particularly in the areas of welding, mechanics, HVAC and transportation – local agencies are searching for workers who hold technical training from post-secondary institutions. Missouri’s 57 area Career Centers have relationships with local community colleges and four-year higher education institutions, providing Missouri high school students with the opportunity for dual credit as early as their junior year.
“At the secondary level, students need to be exposed to career opportunities and make better choices prior to attending college,” Welker said. “We can better prepare our students by providing them with good career and technical programs in high school.”
In addition, educators continue to work with local business and industry leaders to try and meet their needs. With sustained growth in information technology fields in coming years, there is an increased need for specific training beyond the K-12 level.
“There is a huge gap right now in certain areas, particularly in STEM careers,” Stephens said. “As a result, we have taken steps to revamp our information technology and secondary programs to make sure students are prepared to enter the workforce.”
Expanding CTE is one way that Missouri is working to become a top 10 state for education by the year 2020.