Career and Technical Education

A Driving Force in Wisconsin's Future Economy

The recent economic downturn has put the state’s focus on the creation of jobs for our state and its residents. As we take steps toward economic recovery, it’s important we recognize the role Career and Technical Education (CTE) will have on continuing to develop our workforce.

The 21st century global economy will continue to alter the skills and qualifications employers require over the next couple of decades. Employers will likely require increasingly more emphasis on Career and Technical Education, since it provides students with core academic skills and hands-on learning. It also provides students the ability to develop relevant job skills in specific areas of expertise in a Career Cluster, which lead to high-paying careers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one-third of the fastest growing occupations will require an associate degree or a postsecondary vocational certificate. Research also indicates that 80 percent of current and emerging occupations require two-year technical degrees. Very often, these degrees begin with Career and Technical Education courses in high school and continue on in college.

Career and Technical Education in high schools provides a seamless transition to post-secondary coursework, especially into technical colleges. Career and Technical Education courses in Agriculture, Business and Information Technology, Family and Consumer Education, Health Science, Marketing and Technology/Engineering Education and Transportation offer a diverse set of opportunities for a diverse student population.

Wisconsin high schools are actively pursuing partnerships with colleges and universities to create pipelines to channel students to relevant advanced education. Articulation, whether it is Advanced Standing or Transcripted Credit, offers career-minded high school students the ability to begin college early. Last year, over 8,000 students took advantage of this option, earning over 27,000 credits for their college education, while still in high school.

Given the pace of technological advancement in the workplace, postsecondary career and technical education is an economic imperative. Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges have never been more integral to this effort with both traditional students looking for their first career opportunities and returning adult students who need to acquire new skills for a changing workplace. With a diverse student body of nearly 400,000 students, the technical colleges lead the expansion of degree holders in our state so employers can grow and stay competitive.

Essentially, Career and Technical Education achieves two important economic goals for our states’ recovery. It helps meet the critical skill demands by Wisconsin’s highly valued employers and it provides individuals with brighter economic futures through expanded career and education opportunities.

Career and Technical Education is a successful statewide effort in Wisconsin, which boasts an ongoing legacy of success in workforce development. As we continue to work toward economic recovery in this state, let us recognize how important Career and Technical Education is to a brighter employment and economic future.