Career and Technical Education – A Brief History
Career and Technical Education (CTE) refers to educational programs which emphasize a particular field of study in preparation for employment. For our intent and purpose CTE will align with secondary training, however, most CTE experiences are post secondary. CTE came of age during World War I and has continued to evolve. CTE faced a drop in interest between 1990-2009 but there is a resurgence in this type training.
Most currently, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act of 2018 states 3(5), “organized educational activities that – (A) offer a sequence of courses that – (i) provides individuals with rigorous academic content and relevant technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare for further education and careers in current or emerging professions, which may included high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand industry sectors or occupations…” Several factors have influenced this resurgence including federal funding, the college debt phenomena and students opting for programs that give them the opportunity of immediate employment and high earning potential in the long run.
Contemporary CTE and Global Competence
According to a paper published by the Asia Society and The Longview Foundation for Education in World Affairs and International Understanding the impact of rapid economic, technological and social changes are creating circumstances that require companies to hire individuals with global competence. Again, this brings us back to the imperative as educators to prepare students who are capable of working compatibly with others, the capacity to be innovative, flexible, and the ability to learn continuously. CTE and global competence are compatible with one another because CTE settings offer students the opportunity to practice the global competence skills of investigating the world, recognizing perspective, communicating ideas and taking action naturally within their course of study.
In the Asia Society and Longview Foundation paper there are multiple examples of technical high schools collaborating with sister schools internationally, and local business and industry leaders to solve a societal problem. For instance, students in Kentucky participated in simulated international business practices creating experiences outside of the classroom with lessons implemented on best business practice including market research, global supply chain, contracts, business meetings, and international business etiquette within the classroom.
This learning model gives students an advantage in an increasing global market. According to the same paper, “not only are 40 million U.S. jobs tied to trade, but three-quarters of the world’s purchasing power and 95 percent of consumers lie outside of U.S. borders.” The U.S. economy is increasingly dependent on globally competent individuals who are able to function within an international capacity. In essence, as students work through a CTE curriculum, depending on their track, will develop specialized skills for their industry. A globalized curriculum will give students the tools needed to thrive in an increasingly global community.
The chart below illustrates how global education can be implemented across specializations.
Global Competency as Cultural Competency
Not only are companies seeking individuals who are tech savvy but need them to also be culturally savvy. Keen on “soft skills” companies are looking for individuals who can “thrive in a work environment.” This is where the cultural competence that is a default result of a global education comes into play. When students are engaging in ideas and taking part in activities that impact spaces beyond the classroom, naturally their perspective begins to shift. Their minds expand and they are able to engage with complex ideas and with people who they may not always agree with. The implications of such skills go beyond economic benefit but reach into the holistic approach of cultivating students for civil society.
A majority of Americans believe there exists a strong political divide, according to a Pew Research Center study. There is a strong chance that when students are equipped with global competencies, they are more likely to view domestic issues with a critical lens. And in the end, our goal as educators is to prepare students not only for a life of wage-earning but also one that builds upon meaningful relationships, most essentially within our own borders along with our global neighbors.