About CTE Introduction
Background and History
Dramatic changes occurred in the workplace during the last half of the twentieth century. In 1950, 60 percent of jobs required a high school diploma or less, 20 percent required two years of post-secondary technical training, and 20 percent required a four-year college degree. In the year 2000, less than 15 percent of the job market will require a high school diploma or less, 65 percent will require two years of post-secondary technical training, and the percentage of jobs requiring a four-year degree will remain at 20 percent. The percentage of skilled and unskilled jobs between the years 1950 and 2000 has changed dramatically.
The advancement of technology has created drastic changes in the job market. The influence of technology can be found in virtually every aspect of our lives. Many of the jobs in existence now did not exist ten or even five years ago. U.S. companies now operate in an international economy that creates greater competition at home and abroad. The skills needed to get and keep a job are continually changing, and all workers will face a need to be lifelong learners.
While education is sometimes accused of not adapting to change, in reality considerable effort and resources are being applied to revising and updating programs and creating new programs to meet the skill requirements of the workplace. The junior high CTE Introduction course, the Career and Technical Education Core requirement for middle school/junior high school students, is no exception. Following the Great Depression and World War II, junior high students were required to enroll in courses that emphasized self-sufficiency skills. Boys were required to participate in "industrial arts" and girls in "home economics" courses. With the passage of Title IX and the reduced stereotyping of adult roles, students were required to earn one unit of credit in either home economics or industrial arts. In the mid-1970s, both of these courses began to de-emphasize self-sufficiency skills and place greater emphasis on hands-on exploration activities related to careers.
In the late 1980s, the career exploration emphasis of the junior high CTE core requirement led to the development of a single course, which was broadened to include exploration activities from the fields of agriculture, business, information technology, marketing, and health occupations. The new course, known as Career and Technical Education Introduction or CTE Intro (formerly Technology, Life and Careers or TLC), was adopted by the State Board of Education as a required Core course for all students, and is generally taught in the seventh grade. Over a period of several years, it was implemented in every junior high/middle school in the state.
CTE Introduction is a course designed to help students understand the interrelationship between career pursuits and life roles, explore career opportunities, and experience some of the technology which is so dramatically affecting both the workplace and the home. Because change is occurring at an accelerated pace in each of these areas, the CTE Introduction course is continually modified to reflect advances in technology and in careers. Minor changes were made in the CTE Introduction course between 1987 and 1999. The 1999 Legislature approved funding to effect a major update of the program, provide ongoing resources for equipment repair and upgrade, and update training for teachers.
Following extensive site visits, surveys, and focus groups involving teachers and counselors, the following goals for the update were identified:
- Help students have greater understanding of why they take CTE Introduction and have more reflection activities that focus on relationships between curriculum and future education and occupation choices.
- Provide students with more integrated instruction in career development with updated activities.
- Define the role of the professional school counselors in delivering the curriculum for CTE Introduction.
- Help students see CTE Introduction as a year-long course and not as three separate programs.
- Have teachers, counselors, and administrators work as a team.
- Strengthen the areas of health science, agriculture, marketing, and personal economics.
- Update equipment and the curriculum and build on the previous success of the CTE Introduction course.
In 2007, revision to the standards, objectives and supporting curricula began again in order to reflect the changing nature of the world of work.
CTE Introduction is typically taught by a team of three teachers and a professional school counselor who delivers specific life/career development activities. Through this activity-centered curriculum, students are exposed to Career Pathways in the following content areas:
- Career Development and Guidance
- Health Science
- Family and Consumer Sciences
- Personal Finance
- Technology Education
- Information Technology
Connecting Students and Careers Through CTE Introduction
The updated CTE Introduction curriculum continues to reflect the original goals of the course, which is designed to help students facilitate understanding of self, interests, abilities, the world of work, and life roles. Core concepts are planned, integrated, and taught through interactive hands-on activities, generally in a laboratory environment. The integrated curriculum for CTE Introduction, which incorporates an analysis approach, spans the entire school year for all seventh grade students. The curriculum maintains its foundation in the CTE Areas of Study as listed above.
Through CTE Introduction, students have the opportunity for integrated exploration activities in career fields and career pathways developed as part of the Utah response to Perkins IV Reauthorization. Through linkages to CTE Pathways, students will gain a better understanding of career fields and potential life/career opportunities.
Talking with middle school/junior high school students about life and careers makes more sense if the process is approached from the perspective of Donald Super*, who has provided the following definitions:
- Career - A course of events that constitute a life
- Career Awareness - Developing an inventory of one’s knowledge, values, and preferences
- Career Development - The process of building the inventory of one’s knowledge, values and preferences
- Career Decision Making - The process of choice, entry, and adjustment related to one’s career (all events that constitute a life)
In these terms, a graphic presentation of a person’s career might look like this:
In this context, the SEOP process, when connected with CTE Introduction, becomes the ideal means for helping students and their parents or guardians make more meaningful education and career choices.
Stronger ties to the career planning components of the Utah Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Program and the Student Education Occupation Plan (SEOP) can occur in the CTE Introduction course. Students have the opportunity to reflect on and then document their reactions, preferences, likes, and dislikes throughout the course. The compiled student reflections can provide direction to the wrap-up guidance and appropriate grade-level career planning activities, facilitated by the teaching team. In addition, CTE Introduction provides greater emphasis on introducing students to the concept of workplace instruction through experiences facilitated by Work-Based Learning personnel hired by school districts. Several career exploration activities can include the teachers working together with professional school counselor(s) and/or a Work-Based Learning coordinator, reducing the adult: student ratio during these activities. This reduction in ratio provides more personalized and enhanced learning for students.
The middle school years are a time of exploration and discovery. Students need experiences that will broaden their horizons. Many career opportunities are not visible to students in the communities in which they live. Relationships between interests, skills, education, and career possibilities are obscured by students’ limited experience base and the lack of effort either at home or in school, or both, to illustrate or establish linkages. The CTE Introduction course affords students a rich opportunity to explore and expand on self-understanding, to expand understanding of career possibilities related to interest, and to develop knowledge and skills for making more prepared career choices. CTE Introduction perhaps embodies the philosophy of middle school purpose better than any course available to students of this age group.