Techniques Magazine Techniques April 2011 : Page 17

PHOTOS By ISTOCk.COM By SABRINA kIDWAI D uring the 20th century, vo-cational education prepared students for entry-level jobs in occupations that did not require additional education or training beyond high school. Back then programs focused mainly on agriculture, business (primarily clerical), and trade and indus-try. Other vocational education programs included automotive, construction trades, food services and cosmetology; all of these programs were designed primarily to serve students who did not plan to go to college. Times have changed, however. Global economic competition is increasing and the need to develop a workforce with ad-vanced skills is critical. The push to find sources of sustainable energy, the growing demands of the health care field and that of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related sectors are all driving the high-demand jobs in today’s growing workforce. Vocational education is now career and technical education (CTE) and it is evolving and adapting its programs to meet the needs of business and industry. Much Changes, Much Stays the Same While the field of CTE is changing, the perception of it has not. The general pub-lic, policymakers and media have a mis-conception about the quality, rigor and relevance of CTE programs today. The negative perception of CTE is not only happening in the United States. ACTE has met with international delegations from several countries, including China, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and Iceland. During each of these international visits, participants discussed how the stigma of CTE (that it is the refuge for not-so-smart students) affects the number of students entering CTE professions. The stigma of CTE as the domain for students not going onto a four-year degree program still exists in the United States. After the State of the Union Address this year, YouTube hosted a live chat with Ed-ucation Secretary Arne Duncan. Near the end of the interview, Secretary Duncan received a question from a woman in New Jersey about the decline of CTE schools. April 2011 Techniques 17

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