What does CTE mean to you? Does the acronym make you think of vocational education or technical schools? By and large, we often see CTE, or Career and Technical Education, as being rooted in the vocational education schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These systems centered around agricultural education and trade schools. The Vocational Age as it’s known unfolded from 1876-1926 as detailed in this document.
Two institutions emerged during this time and served as models for future programs: the New York Trade School and the Hebrew Technical Institute. Founded in 1881, the New York Trade School provided trade training and education to students and workers. The Hebrew Technical School was founded just three years later and focused more on an overall technical education.
Both the New York Trade School and the Hebrew Technical School sought to provide students with high-demand skills to obtain and maintain employment. Today, the concepts behind CTE are changing as its purpose has shifted from knowing how to use machines to building machines, which meet the needs of society.
Certainly, not all existing programs are obsolete. However, there is an incredible opportunity to mold the future of CTE into programs that are aligned with where the world is truly heading. (Think: startups, for profits for good, and young entrepreneurship.)
How can CTE meet the needs of the up and coming workforce while preparing students to embrace innovation? The answer to this question includes multiple, overlapping layers.
First, it’s vital for CTE programs to embrace the career aspect of their title and provide students with the opportunity to explore potential career paths in-depth. Students should interact with mentors, the community, and potential employers. These face-to-face connections offer more than a chance to network; they allow students to obtain insights regarding which skills, certifications, and educational programs best suit their potential careers.
By its very definition, CTE programs need to prepare students for the future, a future that looks very different than it ever has before. Many of these students will need to create jobs for their own futures and are eager to explore their entrepreneurial sides. In fact, a 2014 study performed by Northeastern University revealed that 72% of Generation Z students want to design their own major. Also known as the Internet Generation, Gen Z’ers are eager to make things better and start their own businesses.
While entrepreneurship is now considered a part of CTE, few schools are actually teaching it. Too many programs are preparing students for jobs in which they do not have to think. CTE programs must celebrate the innate desire of these students to ask why while bringing their career goals ever closed to their education. Seed Spot NEXT does just that by guiding students to unearth problems they are passionate about, assess vast amounts of information, try, fail, rise, triumphant, articulate their ideas, and create real-world solutions.
The Seed Spot Program maps to CTE standards, ensuring that students leave the program with skills that uniquely qualify them to work in the startup and social change fields. It also allows educators to focus on ready-to-implement training materials and out-of-the-box solutions to minimize downtime.
The future of CTE is best represented by career-ready students who are eager to learn and explore new concepts whether that’s in high education or on the job. It’s no longer the so-called “non-academic track” but a pathway to success, which intersects with academic subjects. It’s highly relevant to workplace trends while simultaneously prioritizes rigor and innovation.
At its heart, the CTE of today embodies the core NEXT generation values highlighted on Seed Spot Next’s website:
A perfect example of these values in action can be found in the Phoenix Union School District. Through SEED SPOT NEXT, the Future Business Leaders of American, and DECA, Inc., Phoenix students are working alongside their CTE instructors to put entrepreneurial skills in practice and network with local professionals. Amanda Yocum, a Phoenix Union School District CTE Curriculum Specialist, explains the value of this experience, saying, “It’s a great opportunity for students to make connections to the real world application of content they learn in class. This experience affords educators and students to look at classroom learning differently and allows students to be creative and innovative. As students learn to “build the new machine” of the future, they also learn to build an engaging and fruitful career for themselves.