Vocational and Technical Education Helps the State Maintain a Strong Workforce | New

For high school students, choosing a career path can be a difficult decision. They weigh many factors, such as personal interests, the rising cost of higher education, earning potential, and the accessibility of job opportunities. And in recent years, the tough economy and job market have left many students unsure of what to do next. A 2019 survey found that only about half of our high school students feel prepared for the job market.

November is National Career Development Month, reminding us of the importance of equipping our students to unlock their potential as they enter the workforce. Career development begins in the classroom. Just as athletes spend the offseason preparing and training before entering the field, career development should begin before students enter their first job. Our schools should prioritize practical education and career development resources for American students. We need their skills and talents to grow our economy and lead us to a more prosperous future — and some skills can be learned before high school graduation.

For example, career and technical education and career and technical student organizations, such as Future Farmers of America, Future Career and Community Leaders of America, and Future Business Leaders of America, are great tools for our students in preparing to successfully embark on their careers. . These organizations expose students to unique development opportunities and help them sharpen their leadership, critical thinking, and communication skills. In addition to classes where they learn real-world concepts, students can explore their interests through rigorous competitions and lectures. As a former FFA officer, I can personally attest to the positive impact the organization has had in my life. I am proud to see that many students continue to benefit from similar experiences.

Whether students choose to attend a four-year college, pursue a two-year technical program, or enter the workforce immediately after high school, their CTE experiences teach them valuable skills they will take with them for the future. rest of their career. These skills in turn meet the critical needs of employers. A recent study found that 77% of employers hire an employee because of their CTE experience. Not only do CTE students increase their career opportunities, but also their salaries – US Department of Education data shows that students who have participated in CTE courses have higher median earnings than their counterparts who have not. do.

Higher education isn’t the only cure for labor shortages — we need Americans ready to work in all sectors of the economy, especially the skilled roles that fuel our industries. To continue fueling economic growth in our state, we must ensure we have adequate training and pathways to well-paying jobs. We must do more to support our faculty, students, and CTE programs so that Alabama maintains its strong workforce.

I hope more students will take advantage of CTE courses and find a way to expand their skills and interests by participating in CTSOs. Thank you to our professors, chapter advisors, and professors dedicated to career and technical education for allowing our students to take advantage of the many opportunities available to them. Your work is essential to ensuring a bright future for our state.

Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate.

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