What are Career and Technical Education Teachers Doing Besides Teaching?
Teaching is easy, right?
Sounds like a dream job, work 8-2:30 Monday through Friday with three months off for summer, right?! The truth is, our teachers are asked to do SO much more than just stand in front of the room a few class periods per day. The best teachers are passionate about the service they provide. That classroom time is the payoff, the culmination of all the behind the scenes work, the meetings, the professional development, preparation, and in the case of Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers, working with and recruiting employers who represent local industry and workforce development initiatives. Wait . . . teachers are also recruiters? I don’t remember seeing any sales or business development classes in that Master of Education program!
Why do we need industry involvement?
In the 2016 study “State of CTE Industry Experts” published by Advance CTE and CCSSO, the national associations for CTE leaders, we learn that building a pool of industry experts is critical in achieving career readiness in the American education system. They state, “While industry experts may change careers and become full-time high school teachers through traditional or alternative certification routes, there are other ways industry experts may contribute to student experiences at the secondary level. For example, experts may support students’ career pathways in roles such as:
- Part-time or ‘adjunct’ high school instructors
- Career advisers or counselors
- Postsecondary faculty who teach dual or concurrent enrollment courses
- Mentors and career coaches
- Advisors for Career Technical Student Organizations
- Competition judging
- Participating in a career day event
- Guest speaking
- Offering internships and apprenticeships”
Why is it so hard to engage industry?
According to the study, “Nearly 60 percent of State Directors reported low industry awareness of engagement opportunities as a significant barrier, drawing further attention to the need for a more focused approach to recruiting industry experts.”
Employers want to engage. They want to help better prepare their workforce. They want to identify the future candidates that possess the knowledge, skills, and aptitude to contribute in their own industries. That being said, why is it so difficult to develop scalable and sustainable employer engagement in CTE? Through talking with hundreds of industry partners, one of the biggest reasons we’ve identified is that educators and industry professionals lack a common language.
Standards are the key to connecting industry and education
Each CTE certification offering from Precision Exams begins with a standard set. This 6-10 page document highlights the learning objectives and key concepts taught in the classroom. We recommend using this document to bridge the communications gap. The standards are a simplified format that any CTE teacher may use to demonstrate to employers the skills and knowledge being certified in their classroom. They also offer a central starting point for feedback on what students should be learning, and clues the employer in to recognizing those candidates that excel and possess the requisite skills, knowledge, and aptitude as represented by the standards.
Are there tools I can use to make industry engagement easier?
Here are some tools to make it easier for teachers to scale their efforts to engage with local employers.
Standards Rating Tool
Precision Exams has developed a Standards Rating Tool to help employers rate and provide feedback in their specific area of expertise. It takes about 15 minutes to rate a standard set on a 1-5 star scale. An optional comment box on each standard provides a forum for professionals to provide specific feedback.
Employer Endorsement Form
Student engagement skyrockets when they can answer the question, “Why am I learning this?” Students perform better when they see employers have provided a nod of endorsement of what the students are currently learning. Here at Precision Exams, our main goal is to help you answer that question. In our efforts to do so, we have built an industry partnership program with resources dedicated to translating education into career opportunities at the local level. Let us help you strengthen connections to your local business partners by filling out our simple (and free!) industry partner referral. Each company you refer will learn how their business can directly benefit by supporting your CTE students and programs.
Teachers engaging with employer advisory boards have successfully utilized these resources to facilitate their bi-annual meetings with local employers. Gaining a commitment from employers with a preferred status for an interview, or internship for the top students who have demonstrated mastery through earning the certification is easy utilizing this approach. Try it in your next advisory board, and if you need help, let us know . . . no need to recreate the wheel! Reach out directly to schedule some time with me, I’d love to talk shop.
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