Officials discuss career and technical education benefits

BIG RAPIDS — Before graduating high school, students are weighing their options between joining the workforce or armed forces or choosing which form of post-secondary education they would like to pursue, said Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District Superintendent Steve Locke.

"What we have seen is students are evaluating all of their options before making a post-secondary decision," he said.

According to the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development (TED), career and technical education (CTE) programs are helping high schoolers pave a solid pathway into the workforce.

CTE programs in Michigan added nearly 5,000 students since 2015, marking the start of an upward trend in CTE enrollment, according to a TED press release. These programs provide students with the necessary skills and training to land rewarding and lifelong careers here at home.

"We are seeing a renewed interest in apprenticeship programs and technical training programs," Locke said. "There is a renewed interest in the skilled trades and at the MOISD, we are really excited about that."

The total number of students in CTE courses is at 109,005 students for 2017, the release said. The largest increase in enrollment for these programs was among eleventh- and twelfth-grade students, which grew from 32.6 percent of Michigan high school students to 34 percent, or 3,402 students.

“Every educator wants their students to be successful — it’s why we do what we do,” State Superintendent Brian Whiston said. “CTE programs give our educators another tool to do that, while ensuring we continue to cultivate the talent of the future and prepare our students to become lifelong learners.”

At the MOISD, Locke said CTE courses not only teach the technical side of the field of their choice, but also teaches students how to be career-ready.

"For us, everything has been about ensuring our programs align with regional employers," Locke said, noting this collaboration helps get his students ready for the workforce.