Sustainable Programs in CTE
As there is renewed interest in developing successful programs in CTE, it is important that employers, entrepreneurs, and educators collectively plan out future programs while regularly reviewing current ones. These are important steps if we are to build a competent workforce that is credentialed, highly adaptive, and capable of competing globally.
Employers know what they are looking for to fill their jobs. Entrepreneurs have a strong sense of developing operating and marketing venues. And educators, some having worked in the various fields of business and industry, know the techniques needed to train to the standards and credentialing components. Collectively, these groups of experts can guarantee the rigor and relevance that are needed in secondary and post-secondary CTE programs.
Also important is the cooperation across systems in order to prevent duplication, ensuring excellence in training, and enhancing research for future training opportunities.
Often it is said that CTEs need to be training students for jobs that might not even exist. That is to say, employees in the years ahead must master elements necessary to be successful today while experiencing constant change in their industry. In other words, employees will need both skills for today and adaption strategies necessary to succeed later on.
A good Maine example that I can think of is the wood harvesting operation. One hundred years ago, lumberjacks stayed in logging camps where as many as fifty would harvest hundreds of acres by hand. As time went by and the need for wood increased, heavy machinery such as skidders, harvesters, and loaders developed. Crews went from fifty men down to 8-10. Today, a one-man harvester with a GPS system and a joystick can bring down acres of timber. Quick and efficient, yes. But who fixes the joystick and the GPS when they go down? This is the market that technicians need to train for.
Another example that comes to mind are ATMs. Introduced in the late 80s in Europe, they were a huge success, especially in the United States. But when they broke it could take weeks to get them repaired because the technicians had to be flown in from Europe (mostly Germany). There were backlogs because not enough technicians could be found to tackle the increased for repair.
So, it is imperative that our future workforce is both trained to fill need, while expecting newer, better ways of doing business as humanity progresses.