Celebrating career and technical education
Today’s career and technical education (CTE) programs are preparing students for college and careers like never before in the state’s history.
Gone are the shop classes of yesteryear, replaced with course work that requires students to apply academic skills to real-world applications that mirror in-demand jobs.
“Today’s CTE programs combine technical, academic and employability skills in a hands-on environment that makes learning relevant for students,” said Jeremy Varner, community college and workforce preparation division administrator for the Iowa Department of Education.
In recognition of the role CTE has in preparing students for college and careers, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation today recognizing February as CTE month in Iowa. The month coincides with a national campaign celebrating achievements and accomplishments of CTE programs across the country.
In fact, in today’s knowledge-based, hyper-connected world, CTE is experiencing a renaissance. Students and parents are seeing the benefits provided by high-quality CTE programs aligned with workforce needs that offer clear pathways to industry certifications and postsecondary credentials. In Iowa, CTE programs prepare students for a wide range of careers, including agriculture, business, computer science, advanced manufacturing, engineering, health care, and culinary arts, among others.
This rebirth has been fueled by legislation signed into law in 2016 to ensure CTE programs align the needs of students, employers, and the state’s economy. Part of that includes developing regional planning partnerships across the state to expand student access to high-quality CTE programs. Currently, there are 15 such partnerships aligned to Iowa’s 15 community college regions.
“The old-school mentality of CTE as vocational educational isn’t the case anymore,” said Lisa Folken, director of Kirkwood Community College’s Jones County Regional Center, where students from area high schools have access to cutting-edge programs in a centralized location.
“Students have access to career-focused, capital-intensive programs. Not only do they get a taste of a career, in many cases they leave with industry credentials and certifications. With these stackable credentials, students can go right into work and be highly marketable, or finish a degree at Kirkwood or elsewhere and have a lot of opportunities at their disposal.”
Providing students with high-quality CTE programs, such as those offered through the Jones County Regional Center, is in line with the state’s Future Ready Iowa initiative, which focuses on making Iowa’s talent pipeline a more skilled workforce. Future Ready Iowa’s goal is for 70 percent of Iowans in the workplace to have education or training beyond high school by 2025.
- Business, management, and administration, including finance and marketing.
- Agriculture, food, and natural resources.
- Information solutions, including information technology and arts, audio/video technology, and communication.
- Applied sciences, technology, engineering and manufacturing, including architecture and construction; transportation, distribution, and logistics; and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
- Health sciences.
- Human services, including education and training; hospitality and tourism; government and public administration; and law, public safety, corrections, and security.