Celebrating the value of CTE programs to Wisconsin’s economy

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By Erin Eagan


February is recognized as Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month in the state of Wisconsin. It’s a time when the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) all celebrate the accomplishments of CTE programs and their value to Wisconsin’s economy.

Throughout the month, representatives from DPI, WTCS and DWD will visit schools, businesses and technical colleges that support CTE opportunities and promote partnerships at the local level. They will share information with students, parents, educators and employers about the value that CTE programs provide.

What is CTE?

Career and Technical Education gives high school students the chance to get a head start on preparing for college and careers. Students in CTE programs learn how core subjects like math, science and writing are used in real life. 

CTE course offerings are supported by partnerships with local businesses and technical colleges where students are allowed to explore career options, receive industry certification and earn post-secondary credits while progressing toward high school graduation. CTE encompasses many different fields including agriculture, information technology, health care, hospitality and management, advanced manufacturing and more.

CTE continues to increase in popularity. Currently, more than 88,000 Wisconsin high school students, roughly two-thirds of the state’s high school population, are taking CTE courses. Even more impressive is the success rate for these CTE students, with a graduation rate of 96 percent. “Because CTE students experience the connection between what they learn and what a future career demands, they have a higher graduation rate than other students across the state,” State Superintendent Tony Evers wrote in a guest editorial last year.

These numbers bode well for the state’s employers looking for skilled workers at a time when many industries are in the midst of a massive worker shortage. In fact, the National Skills Coalition projects that 51 percent of job openings in Wisconsin between now and 2020 will be middle-skill jobs — those that require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree.

CTE is more important now than ever as we work to bridge the skills gap. As a leader in preparing students for the workforce, Wisconsin’s CTE programs will continue to do their part in putting students on the pathway to help fill this shortage.