By Chelsea Parker
Perhaps more than ever, educators are keenly aware of the importance of preparing students for life after high school. Whatever students are planning a career in, career and technical education (CTE) programs are one way that students can leave high school prepared for college or training—or head right into the workforce.
What local workforces need? How to improve and enhance student learning? How to help students get a head start on life after high school? These are the questions Tennessee Council for Career and Technical Education (TCCTE) dove into in a recently released report. The council developed 10 recommendations to provide even more opportunities to Tennessee students, and it is our hope these recommendations spark ideas that strengthen the synergy in your community between the classroom and the workforce.
Workforce Demand: What are the needs of the local workforces?
By building strong partnerships between industries and CTE programs, we can set students up for success in the workforce by better aligning CTE programs with what’s actually happening in local industries and providing students with hands-on learning opportunities and knowledge of growing careers:
To develop stronger partnership and increase students’ access to industry opportunities, the TCCTE recommends:
- Expanding work-based learning programs for districts, teachers, and local industries through clear communications, technical assistance, and business tax incentives
- Increasing student participation in work-based learning experiences by encouraging districts and industries to plan together
- Promoting and expanding apprenticeship programs across the state
- Aligning districts’ CTE offerings with the workforce needs in their local areas
- Increasing the number of students who attain nationally-recognized industry certifications
Rigorous Education Opportunities: How can we improve and enhance student learning in CTE?
Traditional classroom instruction and community-based instruction are both valuable ways to teach students the academic, technical, and employability skills they need. It’s important to supplement classroom learning with exposure to real-world workplaces.
To enhance student learning through real-world experiences, the TCCTE recommends:
- Allocating additional funding to program equipment and industry certifications
- Providing tax incentives to businesses to help develop quality CTE programs
- Tracking and comparing employment trends with student enrollment in CTE programs to ensure students can access local opportunities and quality programs
Counseling for Success: How can we help students get a head start on life after high school?
To better prepare students for the long-term, the TCCTE recommends:
- Dedicating a staff position at the state level to streamline and organize information that school counselors need to best serve Tennessee students
- Reporting on the high-skill, high-demand jobs that CTE high school graduates enter
Altogether, these recommendations can help improve CTE in Tennessee so that students can grow academically, personally, and professionally as they transition into the workforce. For more detailed information about these recommendations, check out the complete report.
Interested in participating in the TCCTE’s mission to improve CTE opportunities for Tennessee students? Check out the TCCTE website for information on the annual Public Forum on November 19 in Nashville. This is your chance to join secondary and postsecondary CTE educators and industry partners to present on creative collaborations that address local workforce and CTE program needs. You can register online through the website.
The Tennessee Council for Career and Technical Education (TCCTE) works to ensure that high-quality CTE programs best serve Tennesseans and prepare students for success in postsecondary education, careers, and life. As an independent, legislated council, the TCCTE advises the governor’s office, the General Assembly, the Tennessee Board of Regents and the State Board of Education regarding CTE access, implementation, and funding. Chelsea Parker is the executive director.