As the national economy and workforce continues to evolve, we’ve seen a major resurgence in career and technical education. CTE has captured the attention of major education advocates, media organizations and our nation’s legislators by showing a growing understanding that our workforce is hungry for the next generation of highly-trained workers.
In addressing this trend and interest in career training, it’s the responsibility of our school districts and local governments to provide the best possible resources to help our students receive the training they need to succeed in their chosen program of study. It’s becoming a necessity for schools to modernize their curricula, classroom materials, technology and facilities to meet the demands of our workforce and train students.
Revamp the classroom
As CTE curricula evolve, administrators must implement modern technology and materials into the classroom if they want to see students and educators succeed. Plymouth School District, where I teach, once used VHS tapes to demonstrate real-world scenarios to students. That was an effective method to teach at one time, but with the changing landscape of CTE and education, modern tools are needed to reach students. Implementing current technology, like an online curriculum that provides a comprehensive database of information for CTE through digital resources, A/V modules and hands-on instruction reinvigorates the educational experience and allows our students to learn about the new developments within the industry.
There are all different types of students in today’s classrooms, and there’s a shift in how they want to learn and access information presented to them. As technology advances, students are looking for more visual learning opportunities through video and interactive assessments so that they not only learn the material, but also understand it before their next lesson or work experience. As more online tools and databases are incorporated into CTE courses, schools have adopted BYOD policies and flipped learning environments to provide students a way to learn in a way that they are comfortable with.
Build new facilities
Classroom tools are one part of modernizing a CTE program. The facilities that host the many labs, offices and classrooms also play an integral role in creating an environment that is mutually beneficial to a program of study and the students and educators. As students showed more interest in pursuing CTE, it became necessary for Plymouth High School to update and remodel part of its building to meet the demands of today’s 21st century industries. Culinary rooms were upgraded, the Science and Technology Center for Project Lead the Way courses was significantly remodeled, the automotive shop received a face-lift and a new food and science agriculture center with a greenhouse will begin construction in the summer of 2015 to accommodate a rapidly growing program. By investing in CTE as part of the infrastructure and building new facilities, schools provide students with the space and resources they need to learn and grow through education.
Ask for community support
While educators play a key role in helping to prepare students for postsecondary education and careers, the local community is equally as important in supporting and being advocates for our students. The success of our schools and education programs is reliant upon the support and involvement of community members and leaders. Community partnerships and industry-backed certifications address many of the new prerequisites students need as they enter the workforce.
Local and regional industry partners are assisting schools and educators more and more, both monetarily and professionally. For example, local budgets are often tighter when it comes to education programs, but with industry support, Plymouth has been able to upgrade its CTE facilities and programs through generous contributions from the community, which demonstrates the level of support that people and businesses have in future generations. Through community collaboration, schools and CTE programs show an eagerness to try new methods of education in order to provide the high-level of training students need for the ever-changing global workforce.
Walter Taylor is an agriculture educator in Plymouth High School’s career and technical education program. He also serves as the school’s Future Farmers of America advisor. Plymouth High School utilizes iCEV, an online platform produced by CEV Multimedia, as part of their CTE program and instruction.
If you enjoyed this article, join SmartBrief’s email list for more stories about education. We offer newsletters covering career and technical education, educational leadership, math education and more.