CTE Month_GraphicBy Kevin Oshinskie, Project Associate for ACTE This month, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is celebrating Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, an annual celebration of CTE professionals and partners. During February, we not only raise awareness of CTE’s crucial role in readying the nation for economic success and increasing our workforce competitiveness, but bring to light stories of leadership and excellence from educators and students across the country through videos, blogs, articles and events. ACTE and NCCER celebrate CTE Month because we understand the value that CTE has through its ability to help close the skills gap and prepare an adaptable and employable workforce.  CTE offers potential for several reasons and prepares students for a wide variety of in-demand career fields, from health care to IT to manufacturing. One of the fields that CTE programs prepare students for is construction.In the next seven years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment in the construction sector to grow 2.6 percent annually.  This may lead to 1.6 million new jobs in that period, which would increase the amount of craft professionals by more than 20 percent and make construction the fastest growing of all manufacturing sectors. In fact, five of the 30 fastest-growing occupations by 2022 are expected to be in construction. As a result of all of this, it is critical not only that we make students aware of opportunities in construction, but that we also ensure they have access to the proper programs that will prepare them to enter the workforce. In addition to sector-specific benefits, CTE has easily quantifiable general benefits: CTE programs keep students engaged:
  • 81 percent of high school dropouts say relevant, real-world learning opportunities would have kept them in high school.
  • The average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 90 percent, compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 75 percent.
CTE programs offer strong employment opportunities:
  • A person with a CTE-related associate degree or credential will earn on average between $4,000 and $19,000 more a year than a person with a humanities associate degree.
  • Skilled trades are the hardest jobs to fill in the United States, with recent data citing 806,000 jobs open in the trade, transportation and utilities sector and 293,000 jobs open in manufacturing (including construction).
  • Middle-skill jobs, which require education and training beyond high school but less than a bachelor's degree, are a significant part of the economy and are often CTE-related. Of the 55 million job openings created by 2020, 30 percent will require some college or a two-year associate degree.
At ACTE, we greatly appreciate the work NCCER does in creating standardized construction and maintenance curricula with portable credentials.  ACTE knows how important standardized and portable credentials are to all students, both for those hoping to go straight into a career after training and for those seeking to use their credentials as a stepping stone to a four-year degree or other type of continuing education.  We also admire NCCER’s Construction Career Pathways initiative, which provides resources to improve industry and education collaboration, and the work of NCCER’s Build Your Future initiative by creating videos, issue briefs and fact sheets to promote construction careers and raise attention to the skills gap and construction workforce shortage. We look forward to promoting CTE Month with the help of NCCER and other organizations, and we hope to hear from you about your efforts to recognize excellence in construction and other CTE fields. Want to share a story about how you celebrate CTE Month? Contact us. For more information on ACTE’s work during CTE Month, visit CTEMonth.org.

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NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.