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CTE Facts

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Career and Technical Education (CTE) creates Pathways to success for all secondary students by providing them with the technical skills and academic knowledge needed to prepare for future employment and/or a successful transition to postsecondary education.

Career and Technical Education encompasses a variety of programs structured to equip students with work and life skills. In Utah, over 137,000 students (grades 9-12) participate in CTE courses annually that help them explore career options and develop occupational skills. The curriculum of CTE gives students the practical experience they need to succeed through a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on laboratory work, and on-the-job training. CTE is offered in all 141 public high schools, including public charter schools, 171 public middle/junior high schools.

Career and Technical Education jump-starts students’ careers by preparing them for postsecondary education and training for high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand occupations while they are still in high school. By following a CTE Pathway, students become college and career ready. Pathways give students many kinds of opportunities to acquire job skills and to get a head start in selected college programs. In Utah, all graduating students have taken a CTE course in high school, and approximately 30 percent of all high school career and technical graduates enter some form of postsecondary program.

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Preparing students for meaningful work is an important goal of career and technical education because of the widening skills gap in the nation’s workforce.

Career and Technical Education prepares students for tomorrow’s workplace. Career and Technical Education educators work closely with the Department of Workforce Services and Utah employers to make sure students have the skills the labor market demands.

Areas of Study

Agricultural Education
Encompasses agricultural business and management, agricultural engineering, animal science, and horticulture.

Business and Marketing Education
Encompasses core business and marketing classes such as: accounting, banking and finance, business computer technology, communications, entrepreneurship, social media marketing, and Web page design.

Family and Consumer Sciences Education
Encompasses child development/child care, food and nutrition, food services/ culinary arts, hospitality, interior design, and fashion design.

Health Science Education
Encompasses biotechnology, dental assisting, emergency medical technician, medical assisting, nurse assisting, and pharmacy technician.

Information Technology Education
Encompasses database development, digital media, network design, programming and software engineering, technical support, and Web development

Skilled and Technical Sciences Education
Encompasses a wide range of trades including auto mechanics, carpentry, commercial art and photography, commercial aviation, cosmetology and barbering, drafting, fire science, law enforcement, and welding.

Technology and Engineering Education
Encompasses materials, processes, and technologies used in manufacturing, construction, transportation, communication, and engineering-related technologies.

Supporting Program Areas

College and Career Awareness
Allows students, through activity-centered lessons, to utilize technology, develop beginning skills, and explore careers. This course provides information regarding additional courses and training related to each student’s career field of interest.

Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance
Assists students through specific self-appraisal and self-improvement activities to enable effective planning to meet their personal education and career goals.

Skill Certificate
Provides statewide competency-based student assessments. Student skill attainment is measured by core standards and competencies needed to be successful in the workforce.

Work-Based Learning
Gives students the opportunity to learn a variety of skills by expanding the walls of classroom learning to include the community. By narrowing the gap between theory and practice, Work-Based Learning creates meaning for students.

Dropout Prevention

  • In 2013, Utah high schools graduated 81 percent of their students.
  • In 2013, the Utah high school dropout rate decreased by 3 percent.
  • Students who take two CTE courses are least likely to drop out of high school.1
  • Students who participate in Work-Based Learning activities such as internships, job shadowing, field studies, and career fairs are 30 percent less likely to drop out of high school.1
  • A combination of 60 percent academic courses and 40 percent Career and Technical Education is the most effective dropout prevention program in the American high school.2
  • Teens who have good high school work experiences are more likely to be inspired to stay in school, graduate, and adopt ambitious goals.5

Job Placement

  • The more CTE courses students take, the less likely they are to suffer periods of unemployment.
  • Career and Technical Education graduates find employment 2.2 times faster than graduates from general education programs.3
  • High school students who graduate with a Career and Technical Education concentration are 2.5 times more likely to be employed while pursuing postsecondary education.
  • Eighteen of the 20 fastest growing occupations within the next decade will require Career and Technical Education.4
  • There are many high-tech jobs in Utah that students can perform as a result of taking CTE courses while in high school.
  • Career and Technical Education enables students to acquire the skills necessary for entry into postsecondary training and careers with high potential for rapid financial growth, increased levels of responsibility, and a high degree of personal satisfaction.

On-The-Job Productivity

  • Today’s labor market requires that workers have more advanced training and post-secondary education. As a result, CTE graduates are more employable and have higher earnings.
  • Career and Technical Education in the high schools closes the workforce gap by giving students a jump-start in obtaining essential life skills and certified occupational skills.
  • Career and Technical Education reduces the workforce gap by providing long-term job education and skills training for students, enabling them to reach their full potential. Studies reveal a strong correlation between education/technical skill levels and continued employment/lifelong earnings.

Encouragement for Further Learning

  • Last year, 20,266 secondary CTE students participated in CTE concurrent enrollment courses, earning 53,411 CTE concurrent enrollment credit hours.
  • Since 1973, jobs that require at least some college have exploded, while opportunities for those with just a high school education have shrunk dramatically.5 Through hands-on training, CTE prepares students for college and careers by helping them obtain the technical skills to advance in the highly competitive workforce of the 21st century.
  • There are nine postsecondary institutions in Utah that offer technical programs, including community colleges, technical institutes, skill centers, and other public and private two-year and four-year colleges.
  • In Utah, there are over 202,000 secondary and postsecondary Career and Technical Education students.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education, approximately 12 million secondary and postsecondary students participate in Career and Technical Education.

Hands-On Approach

  • Career and Technical Education uses a hands-on approach that teaching experts believe is more effective with many students than reading or listening to lectures alone.
  • Through Work-Based Learning activities, approximately 138,000 students participate in internships, job shadowing, field studies, and career fairs annually. Through these activities students have the opportunity to see how classroom instruction connects to the world of work and future career opportunities.
  • Learning for Jobs concludes that, done well, Work-Based Learning appears to be the best way for the majority of young people to prepare for the world of work.5
  • The most intensive forms of workplace learning—apprenticeship and sustained internships—are especially effective in meeting the developmental needs of young people.5

Career and Technical Education Skills

  • Students without a strong math, science, and computer background will find about 80 percent of future jobs beyond their reach.
  • Career and Technical Education programs can be either general or occupation-specific. General programs provide basic employability skills and introduce various occupational fields. Occupation-specific programs teach the same basic skills, but also prepare students for a particular career.
  • Today’s best CTE programs do a better job of preparing many students for college and career than traditional academics-only programs.5
  • Over 137,000 Utah students (grades 9-12) participate in CTE courses annually.
  • Last year 20,266 secondary CTE students participated in CTE concurrent enrollment courses, earning 53,411 CTE concurrent enrollment credit hours.

Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs)

  • CTSOs help students develop leadership skills and positive work values, while reinforcing the Career and Technical Education curriculum.
  • Seven student organizations include: DECA, FCCLA, FBLA, FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA, and TSA.
  • In Utah, over 20,000 secondary students participate in student leadership organizations.

    1 NRC Stone, 2003.
    2. Plank, NCRVE, 2002.
    3. Okou, PSU, 2004.
    4. Association of CTE, 2007.
    5. Harvard Graduate School of Education Pathways to Prosperity Project, 2011.

Our vision is to see that every student has the opportunity to explore a variety of career areas, throughout high school, that will equip him or her with the academic knowledge, technical and employment skills vital for entry into the evolving workforce of the 21st century.