Students cannot reach their full potential if they are only learn about careers that are traditional to their gender or demographics.
Only 40% of all jobs require a 4-year degree – at most! That means at least 60% of all jobs and careers do not require a 4-year degree.
We all want the same thing for our children – happiness, financial security, job satisfaction, and opportunity! College is one route to these things BUT there are many more careers that don’t require four years in college, that pay wages that are stable, in careers that are in demand and provide benefits and opportunities.
Stereotypes limit us.
They limit our children. When we reinforce, or indeed don’t actively breakdown stereotypes, we close doors that could be the avenue to success and happiness for our children and students. In education, and the workforce, there are stereotypes – usually unspoken, but not always – about what jobs are appropriate for girls versus boys or men versus women. There are stereotypes about what jobs different minority or underrepresented groups are “good at” or “not good at.” There are “statistics” that reinforce stereotypes about graduation rates, abilities, interests, and economic necessities!
The reality is that the interests of one girl will surely differ from what interests another girl. There will certainly be Hispanic girls who find their passion in the automotive industry while their best friend finds hers in accounting and finance! There will be African American men who love to work with young children while their peers are studying law and are baffled by anyone who relates to young children! The reality is unknown; however, what is known is that students “cannot maximize their human potential if their career aspirations are limited by stereotypes!” (Getting Real p. 43)
When we only focus on a four-year degree, we marginalize a majority of our children who do not see themselves sitting at a desk for another 4 years or are passionate about a trade or careers that does not require a four-year degree! These students often are told overtly or covertly that their career interests are not enough! It’s not enough to be an auto mechanic, it’s not “ok” for a girl to work on cars, and it’s not possible for a Mexican to succeed in engineering. We are not talking to a majority of our kids if we are not providing information, choices, and hope for a career that pays well, is flexible, and provides a self-sufficiency wage!
Schools are filled to capacity with students who attend to school because of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses(s) that make education real to them. We all know that for some of these kids, academics are the price they pay for woodshop, culinary arts, allied health, or automotive class!
Today’s CTE provides students:
- Academic subject matter taught with relevance to the real world
- Employability skills, from job-related skills to workplace ethics
- Career pathways that link secondary and postsecondary education
- Second-chance education and training
- Education for additional training and degrees, especially related to workplace training, skills upgrades and career advancement.
If you see your kid struggling with classes that seem irrelevant to them, they really don’t like their academic classes – but you know they are smart, they like to work with their hands, and like to have something that they can see at the end of the day – a career in the trades may be just the answer!
We know that the media, your children’s schools, your parents and friends, and even your spouse may think that security and happiness come only with a four-year degree.
There are hundreds of resources in your schools, on the computer, or at the library that will guide you as you assist your students in making plans for her or his future!
The important steps to remember are:
- What level of income is my students going to need to live in your community
- What are my daughter’s/son’s interests or passions, his or her abilities and skills?
- What jobs do these interests and abilities lend themselves to?
- Do these jobs pay enough to live in our community (see #1)?
- Are there jobs in our area so that once she or he is trained, there is a job waiting?
- Where can my child get trained?
- How can I assist my child paying for the training and supporting their efforts?