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Career and Technical Education (CTE) | CTE Month

CTE Month: 4 Ways CTE Transforms the Economy

February 20th, 2024 | 6 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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Every February, CTE Month is a special time to celebrate the importance of Career and Technical Education and its unique role in equipping students for lifelong careers. However, many people do not fully realize the wide-ranging impact CTE graduates have on our economy and communities throughout the country. 

In this article, we’ll consider four ways CTE graduates serve as transformers in today’s economy: 

  • CTE Impacts Almost Every Area of Life 
  • CTE Produces Better-Qualified Graduates 
  • CTE Uplifts Students and Communities 
  • CTE Closes the Skills Gap 

After reading, you’ll have a more complete understanding of the role CTE plays in ensuring the success of learners in communities across the country so you can better celebrate their impact this CTE Month. 


CTE Impacts Almost Every Area of Life 

During CTE Month, it is crucial to realize the true scale of career and technical education and the pathways and industries it serves.

In total, there are 16 different CTE pathways, ranging from Agricultural Science and Business to STEM and Transportation. Each of these pathways is filled with a broad range of career opportunities, touching on areas as diverse as environmental science and healthcare. Learners with a background in CTE can find fulfilling careers as skilled professionals in various industries, helping their communities thrive. 

It’s hard to overstate the impact CTE graduates have in their local communities. Going through everyday life is impossible without interacting with CTE-trained professionals and benefitting from their skilled work. From the auto mechanics who work on our vehicles to the nurses and healthcare workers who staff hospitals and clinics, our daily lives are deeply connected to CTE graduates who are successfully placed in gratifying careers.

Just as importantly, each career pathway and industry depends on hiring and retaining qualified workers, and many simply cannot function without the skilled professionals that CTE programs provide. CTE Month is ideal for celebrating these students and their universal impact on the local, national, and global economy. 


CTE Produces Better-Qualified Graduates 

To fulfill an increased need for specialized knowledge in the workforce, educators and their students rely on CTE to give them the skills they need while still in high school. CTE programs operate on this simple principle: by ensuring students are better qualified for career opportunities sooner, they can be confident that each graduate stands out to potential employers and can transform the economy. 

For students in CTE programs, success comes in multiple forms. 

According to the Report to Congress on State Performance for the Carl D. Perkins Act, 45 percent of CTE students agree that the real-world examples provided in CTE programs help them better understand their academic classes. Even more impressively, 95 percent of CTE concentrators graduate from high school, more than ten points above the national average. 

The report also indicates that students are satisfied with their opportunities after high school. While 78 percent of CTE concentrators enroll in a post-secondary program directly following high school, many gain direct employment in their chosen fields. 

Ultimately, students who choose to become CTE concentrators are better prepared for success and more likely to make an economic impact in the communities they serve. 


CTE Uplifts Students and Communities 

The specialized learning students experience in CTE programs can uplift and transform learners and their communities.

A unique advantage of CTE is its ability to provide students with a wealth of specialized learning opportunities while still in high school. Whether it is interacting with industry-specific technologies in the CTE classroom or engaging in internships and work-based learning (WBL) opportunities with local partners, CTE programs offer students a significant advantage in developing real-world experience while in high school while making connections with others in their towns and cities.

Equally empowering are the opportunities offered through career and technical student organizations (CTSOs). CTSOs provide ample resources for students through competitive events and leadership opportunities that inspire confidence and encourage success in CTE fields. Celebrating these organizations during CTE Month further highlights their uplifting impact in promoting the success of middle and high school students. 


CTE Closes the Skills Gap 

As part of its broad-reaching impact, CTE graduates play an essential role in closing the skills gap in industries throughout the United States. 

While a diverse repertoire of skills and careers is fundamental to maintaining a thriving and diversified economy, it’s clear that there are not enough qualified professionals to fill these needs. This is especially true as our economy expands and new technologies are introduced, requiring specialized skills and knowledge along with a trained workforce passionate about fulfilling these roles. 

CTE helps close this gap by placing more qualified and experienced individuals in these positions directly after completing a CTE program, decreasing the time employers need to spend doing on-the-job training and maximizing the graduates’ opportunities as first-time employees. 

Plus, when CTE graduates have earned industry-sponsored certifications, they’re even more prepared to make a transformative impact on their local economies

Certifications offer earners an additional level of qualification backed by industry partners who verify their training and readiness for work in the field. With certifications, earners can pursue better opportunities, while employers can be more confident that they are hiring exceptional applicants.


Learn More About How CTE Transforms the Economy 

CTE Month is the ideal opportunity to highlight the unique impact educators, students, and schools can have on the economy through career and technical education. 

In this article, you’ve learned more about the transformative difference CTE makes in their communities through providing a robust education that cultivates sought-after knowledge graduates use to become better qualified, closing the skills gap and uplifting their communities. 

But the sad reality is that for too many CTE programs, the acknowledgment they receive each year ends with CTE Month. This is why schools and their industry and community partners must emphasize the importance of CTE throughout the year. 

CTE turns students into transformers, confident individuals equipped to make a difference in the fields of their choice and make an ongoing economic impact in communities across the country. That’s why it’s so important to champion your program and learners both during CTE month and for the rest of the year! 

Do you want to learn more about how you can celebrate CTE’s transformative impact throughout the year? 

When you visit iCEV’s Transforming the Economy page, you’ll discover resources to help you and your program celebrate CTE during CTE Month and throughout the year. You’ll find graphics and posters to share with your students, along with videos and articles to help emphasize the transformative impact of CTE:

Visit the Transforming the Economy Page