Career, technical education feeds growing economyTo our relief, we are beginning to see signs the national and regional economy is turning the corner with many sectors showing improvement.
By: By Bob Meyer, Superior Telegram
To our relief, we are beginning to see signs the national and regional economy is turning the corner with many sectors showing improvement.
However, one persistent paradox we have faced throughout this extended economic downturn is there have been severe shortages of workers to fill job vacancies in key areas including manufacturing and the health care industry.
The shortage of skilled workers, now known as the skills gap, has hampered the nation’s economic recovery. In fact, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis indicated recently that the unemployment rate could be reduced by another 2.5 percent if the skills gap were eliminated. However, the skills gap is anticipated to grow as nearly 68 million baby boomers near retirement age and leave the workforce. Is there an antidote to this vexing situation? The simple answer is yes, and it is called Career and Technical Education.
CTE as it’s called for short, consists of practical and applied instruction aimed at matching students with work positions in business and industry. This pragmatic approach to learning is successful because it connects business and industry workforce needs with educational programming at all levels including K-12 and post-secondary education. It is the ultimate strategy in helping an individual become job ready and career ready.
CTE targets the development of foundational skills, core workplace competencies and specific skill attainment in various occupational areas. Internships, practicums, cooperative education, school-based enterprises, dual enrollment programs and apprenticeships are a few venues that deliver career and technical education by providing meaningful opportunities for learners to apply their academic and technical skills.
Research shows the majority of Wisconsin jobs require the kind of preparation provided by CTE programs. This need is anticipated to remain high in the upcoming decade for Wisconsin and the nation. Therefore, there will continue to be great demand for graduates of CTE programming. CTE programming offers outstanding opportunities to its students in preparing them for an array of exciting and challenging careers.
For those in the workforce that have been dislocated, CTE is a reliable step toward retooling your career skills. For its part, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College offers 53 CTE programs spanning a spectrum of exciting career choices. Graduates completing their programming at WITC enjoy high job placement rates, even during difficult economic times, and competitive starting salaries with promising growth potential. Almost all of WITC’s graduates — 98 percent — would recommend WITC to a friend or family member.
February is Career and Technical Education month. If you want to be job ready and launch or switch to an exciting and rewarding career, you owe it to yourself to check out CTE and WITC. If you are a member of the economic development community, political leader or active member of your school district, you should advocate and support CTE programming. It is a sure-bet strategy toward turning our economic woes around and preparing for the future.
WITC serves the educational and career needs of more than 25,000 residents of northwestern Wisconsin each year. With multiple campuses, WITC offers career-focused associate degree programs, technical diplomas, short-term certificates, customized business training and a wide array of courses for personal or career enrichment.
WITC is a member of Wisconsin Technical College System. WITC is an equal opportunity/access employer and educator.
For more information, call 800-243-9482 or visit witc.edu.
Bob Meyer is president of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.