Career and technical education prepares both youth and adults for a wide range of careers. These careers may require varying levels of education – from high school and postsecondary certificates to two- and four-year college degrees. Career and technical education is offered in middle schools, high schools, community and technical colleges and other postsecondary institutions.
Career and technical education covers a variety of challenging fields in diverse subject areas which are constantly evolving due to the changing global economy. Some of the career areas that students may enter through career and technical education include:
Agriculture (farmers, animal scientists, turf grass specialists);
Trade and Industrial (automotive technicians, carpenters, electricians);
Business and Marketing (entrepreneurs, financial officers, arts/graphics designers);
Family and Consumer Sciences (management and life skills, executive chefs, hotel managers);
Health Occupations (nurses, physical therapists, biomedical engineers);
Public Safety and Security (EMTs, emergency management and response coordinators); and
Technology (3D animator, computer engineer, biotechnical engineer).
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), most high school students take at least one career and technical education course, and one in four students take three or more courses in a single program area. One-third of college students are involved in career and technical programs, and as many as 40 million adults engage in short-term postsecondary occupational training.
Nearly one-third of the fastest growing occupations will require an associate degree or a postsecondary vocational certificate, according to a 2006 U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
More than 80 percent of respondents in the 2005 National Association of Manufacturer’s Skills Gap Report indicated that they are experiencing a shortage of qualified workers overall – with 13 percent reporting severe shortages and 68 percent indicating moderate shortages. Career and technical education plays a vital role in helping American business close this gap by building a competitive workforce for the 21st Century.