April 2, 2024 | Harold Hare

CTE’s Role in Pennsylvania’s Changing Workforce

In Pennsylvania, the landscape of education and employment is undergoing a transformation, where the traditional pathways to career success are being redefined. At the heart of this shift is Career and Technical Education (CTE), enabling innovation for students navigating the complexities of the modern job market. CTE programs stand as a bridge between ambition and opportunity, offering learners the tools and skills necessary to thrive in industries pivotal to the state’s economic growth and sustainability. 

CTE: Building Tomorrow’s Skilled Workforce

In the Keystone state, data from the Association for Career & Technical Education reveal an economic dilemma: 53% of available jobs demand more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. However, only 42% of the workforce possesses this level of education. This discrepancy offers both a challenge and a prospect for Career and Technical Education (CTE) initiatives to fill the void. CTE programs in Pennsylvania are strategically designed to address this gap, focusing on key industries such as food processing & manufacturing, energy production & transition, plastics & chemicals, and robotics & AI. These areas are essential for the economic advancement and sustainability of the state, positioning CTE as the critical foundation for cultivating skilled experts poised for innovation and success.

Earnings, Participation, and Career Readiness

In the 2021-22 academic period, Pennsylvania saw significant enrollment numbers in Career and Technical Education (CTE) with 60,570 secondary and 58,465 postsecondary students engaging in these programs. CTE goes beyond preparation for immediate employment, paving the way for enduring career success. Remarkably, students concentrated in CTE programs in Pennsylvania celebrated a graduation rate of 94.7%, surpassing the general student population’s rate of 87%. This statistic illustrates CTE’s role in fostering higher educational achievements. Participants in CTE graduate at elevated rates and acquire credentials recognized across industries, laying a solid groundwork for their future professional endeavors

The Case for Greater Investment in CTE

While the achievements are noteworthy, there is a clear and urgent need to boost funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. It’s essential that every student, particularly those from traditionally marginalized communities, gains access to these critical learning paths to secure the future of Pennsylvania’s labor force and its economic vitality. The support for CTE is undeniable with the Federal Perkins CTE funding for the fiscal year 2023 allocated to Pennsylvania being $50 million. The growing demand and the immense potential for expansion call for increased financial backing. The evolution of CTE in Pennsylvania represents a path filled with potential, obstacles, and hope. Amplifying the investment in these initiatives promises to prepare all students with the necessary competencies to excel in a dynamic and competitive employment landscape.

The Future Ready Curriculum: Shaping Pennsylvania’s CTE Landscape

As Pennsylvania works to close the gap in skills by embracing Career and Technical Education (CTE), incorporating advanced tools such as the Future Ready Curriculum proves crucial. Find Your Grind, designed to support CTE initiatives, meets the changing needs of younger generations like Gen Alpha and Gen Z by offering bite-sized learning and game-like experiences, which greatly involve students in discovering career options and building vital skills for the future. This strategy enriches the CTE journey and guarantees students are ready for the shifting job landscape. The Future Ready Curriculum plays a significant role in the growth of CTE programs throughout Pennsylvania, making Find Your Grind a pivotal partner in expanding CTE programs across Pennsylvania.

Watch the Future Ready Curriculum Video

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