Does Career and Technical Education need to make institutional changes that will make them better able to prepare students for the real world? I would say YES without any doubt. The following three changes are critical to our quest for equipping students with the skills they need for the future in CTE programs:
- Culture of Networking
- Multiple Pathways to Postsecondary Education and Careers
- Pedagogy and Curriculum
For the purpose of this article, I would like to focus on the Culture of Networking with the industry that the students are being prepared to go into. First, students should learn on the actual site of a business organization of their program at least once a week as a coop intern. These organizations foster development of the skill they need while making their educational experience relevant to the world they will experience as adults. This will give answer to the universal complaints of students about learning things they will never use. Application learning makes formal education relevant.
Secondly, bringing in industry experts to connect with the students both physically and virtually through Skype, Google Hangouts or other online means could prove very rewarding. These students get a chance to meet and interact regularly with experts from the field of their study. This will enable these experts offer real world examples of industry problems and challenges for students to resolve, and often supplement instruction be adding their industry expertise to the materials covered by CTE faculty.
Finally, networking with other students and collaborating with them is also crucial. Good and inspiring ideas are often born and nurtured through networking with others. When students work together, they learn from each other, they learn to cooperate with each other, and they share the responsibilities for assignments. Therefore, more practical efforts should be dedicated to bringing students, even from other technical centers, together so they can share ideas with one another.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that these practical changes that will encourage an active blending of the students with the real world, will ultimately lead to success in cultivating the 21st century skills needed for a world not yet known.