CTE has always evolved in response to economic needs in our communities. Today, CTE is a major part of the solution to myriad national economic and workforce problems, such as high school dropout rates, a weakened economy, global competitiveness and massive layoffs.
Dropout Prevention: CTE students are more motivated and
interested in their coursework because of its connection to the real world and, as a result, less likely to dropout.2 In a recent report for the Gates Foundation, the majority of respondents (81%) reported that more learning opportunities which make the classroom relevant Traditional Vocational Education
Better Career Prospects: CTE students participate in programs that lead to employment in high-skill, high-wage, high-demand occupations or professions. A 2004 National Assessment of Vocational Education (NAVE) report showed that students who participated in postsecondary CTE coursework, even without
earning credentials, earned a higher yearly salary than high school graduates who do not take postsecondary CTE courses.
21st Century Occupations: CTE programs provide the skills training that addresses the needs of high-growth industries, such as healthcare, renewable energy and STEM fields.
Helping the Unemployed: CTE gives individuals in transition a way to begin a new career with a chance to reinvent themselves. MSNBC reported in March 2009 that many people who have been laid off during the economic crisis are taking this opportunity to go back to school and get retrained for a new career.8 CTE programs at the postsecondary level are poised to serve this population. Policymakers at all levels should embrace CTE programs at the high school and postsecondary levels in order to help students see the relevance of their school work and prepare them for jobs in highskill, high-wage, high-demand career fields. With appropriate policy supports and funding, these CTE programs can prepare students to leverage the academic and career skills they learn in school to help build and sustain our economy.