CTE and the New Blue Collar Economy
As the new year unfolds and a new administration transitions into Washington, D.C., let us not lose sight that there are pockets around the country that need a trained workforce and skilled labor, which isn’t going to change overnight. And it’s also important to remember that a vast majority of “baby boomers” will be retiring in the next ten years and those retirements are putting much emphasis on the service-related industry. Career and Technical Education (CTE) addresses both of these concerns.
Right now, CTE secondary and post-secondary centers are in the midst of training our students for service fields in nursing, automotive technicians, plumbing, electricians, construction, restaurant and hospitality, and many other careers that deal with serving people — retirees in particular.
For those students going on to a post-secondary setting, many of our programs have articulation agreements with the state’s university system to accept TCTC program work for college credit. An example is our automotive tech program. Students attending for two years can get NATEF, AES and CDX certified. One of our junior colleges has accepted up to twelve credits — that translates into thousands of dollars saved on tuition and less time on the college campus.
CTE (formerly known as vocational education) has been preparing students for entry level work since the turn of the 20th century. Here at TCTC we use data to help us plan future programs that will get our students industry certified and into jobs in their chosen fields. We constantly strive to be up-to-date, using national labor statistics to modify and create valid training programs. “Blue collar” is one type of such jobs, and it’s not what it used to be–low pay and low demand. Today, many of the “blue collar” jobs are in high demand and pay well.
I believe it is important to continue to build a highly skilled labor force for jobs now and those emerging. These workers and future workers remain the “backbone” of the American economy and will help keep jobs in America. Such jobs will also help build back our economy to be more competitive in the global market. In other words, American workers are and will continue to be a force to be reckoned with, and CTE will continue its essential role in making sure that happens.
Dr. Patrick O’Neill, Director