As spring approaches, thousands of coaches and athletes from around the country get ready for National Signing Day, a day where press conferences are scheduled, coaches’ phones ring off the hook, and star recruits ceremoniously sport the hats of their chosen colleges. For star athletes, it is the day they begin their trek toward what many hope will be professional athletic careers.
In our view, though, every student deserves a signing day. That’s why we started Academic Signing Day at Northeast Community College. We take the opportunity to highlight academic scholars who pursue higher education in one of our career and technical education (CTE) programs as they work toward becoming professionals in their chosen career field.
Everyone assumed Kevin King would graduate and head straight to college.
“I was your stereotypical AP student,” he notes. “Straight A’s through middle school, almost straight A’s through high school … I was the guy you would look at and say, ‘He’s going to college.’ It was just a matter of which one.”
As it turned out, Kevin picked a different path – one that perfectly fit his goals and interests. His struggle wasn’t figuring out what he wanted to do – it was coming to terms with the fact that what he really wanted for himself was different than what others expected of him.
There are many young adults who find it very difficult to identify their career passion and explore how to turn that passion into a successful career. That was me, until I discovered my high school’s Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) program. This program helped me discover my passion for Culinary Arts. My culinary class was the class I would look forward to every day, because it is what spoke to me and what I wanted to pursue as a career. It was my participation in this program that introduced me to Career and Technical Education (CTE) and helped me understand what FCS and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) were all about.
It was during my freshman year of high school when I first realized that STEM was not the career pathway I wanted to pursue. While I understood the importance of a strong foundation in STEM fundamentals, my real passion was business.
A recent state reported data set on CTE participation shows only 8 million of America’s 15 million high school students participate in a CTE course in a given year. Additionally, only 1 in 5 high school students chose to concentrate in a CTE program of study. At the same time, the numbers of transfer students at community colleges are outpacing those enrolled in CTE certificate or associates degree pathways. This results in an America where employers face a profound skills gap and students carry $1.5 trillion in financial aid debt. Too few students are taking advantage of CTE educational opportunities that lead to great jobs and careers. It is time for Career and Technical Education in the U.S. to be the nimble, demand-driven talent development system that it is meant to be.
This morning, the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor and Commerce joined the Swiss government in signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on apprenticeships. This agreement will build upon ongoing collaboration between the United States and Switzerland to encourage businesses and stakeholders to promote the value of apprenticeship programs and develop effective strategies to increase awareness of and access to work-based learning.
In June of 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order titled, “Expanding Apprenticeships in America.” This order called for the creation of a special Task Force to identify strategies and proposals to promote apprenticeships in the United States. To meet this challenge, Department of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta brought together representatives from companies, labor unions, trade associations, educational institutions and public agencies. On May 10, the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion submitted a report to the President that provided a strategy to create more apprenticeships in the United States through an Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship model.
The centerpiece of the proposal is to build on the traditional registered apprenticeship concept by creating a pathway to new, industry-recognized apprenticeships. The final report lays out that proposal as the first step toward the goal of expanding apprenticeships broadly over the next five years. Secretary DeVos helped lead the Task Force, saying, “Apprenticeships give students proven and meaningful ways to gain skills and kickstart fulfilling careers…We must continue our efforts to strengthen workforce readiness and increase the number of pathways available to students after high school.”
The East Syracuse Minoa Central School District prides itself on educating the whole student — every student. Its educators say this dedication to excellence through cross-disciplinary and inquiry-based learning forms the core of its identity and values.
Fifty-three of the district’s high school students and eight faculty members and parents traveled to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in Washington, D.C., recently to showcase the district’s comprehensive education — one with broad offerings that include art, physics, music, English composition, computer programming and automotive technology. As evidence of this integration, the group opened its 105-piece K–12 student art exhibit and showed a student-made film on all of its career and technical education classes to myriad D.C.-area arts educators, leaders and advocates, one of their Congresspersons’ staff members and ED staff.
“We have students who take AP [Advanced Placement] art in the morning and go to auto tech in the afternoon,” said Matthew Cincotta, chair of the high school’s art department. He described a class in which students merged information from art and biology to inspect a dissected cat. “We talked about connective tissue,” Cincotta explained. “You have to understand anatomy to understand how to draw hand and body parts.”
The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century (Perkins V) Act was signed into law this week and brings changes to the $1.2 billion annual federal investment in career and technical education (CTE). The U.S. Department of Education is looking forward to working with states to implement the new legislation which goes into effect on July 1, 2019 and replaces the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (Perkins IV) Act of 2006.
“The law creates new opportunities to improve CTE and enables more flexibility for states to meet the unique needs of their learners, educators, and employers,” said Scott Stump, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education.
The U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, travelled to the Netherlands for an official program on June 11-12, as the second stop on a three country trip to Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, to explore the vocational education, decentralized school systems, and apprenticeship programs within Europe.
Her visit to the Netherlands, planned by the Dutch Ministry of Education, focused on vocational education, school choice, and advancing education options to prepare students for the modern economy. Secretary DeVos started her trip by meeting with the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, and the Ministry helped to plan her visits. She viewed how Imelda Primary School in Rotterdam has incorporated arts into the school to advance student understanding of abstract concepts and to encourage problem solving. She spoke with students at Edith Stein College in The Hague about the Dutch educational system and challenges faced by students. She also visited students [at] Lucia Marthas Institute for the Performing Arts in Amsterdam, where students were preparing performances for their end of year productions.
There’s a lot we as Americans can learn from other countries and how they set their students up for successful lives and careers. That’s why as part of my first trip abroad as Secretary I chose to visit Switzerland and witness their innovative approach to apprenticeships. There this sort of educational opportunity is not only the norm, it is highly coveted by students!
In Switzerland, the education sector partners closely with businesses to provide apprenticeships for students in a variety of professions. Two-thirds of current Swiss students pursue their education through one of the 250 types of government-recognized apprenticeships. Meanwhile, only 17 percent of U.S. students have worked in an internship or apprenticeship related to their career goals.