Career and Technical Education programs keep it real

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Wanted: Chief Listening Officer. Applicant must be able listen to clients and consumers and engage with the company’s stakeholders.

While this occupational job title might sound like something out of a science fiction novel, it’s just one of many jobs that actually exists today that were non-existent five years ago. It’s jobs like these, as well as those yet to be developed, that educators must equip students with the skills to fill.

Dallas ISD CTE (Career and Technical Education) teachers recently spent an evening discussing workforce trends and how to prepare students to be college- and career- ready by equipping them for these high-wage, high-demand career fields.

One of the many goals is helping to align student interests with the realities of the labor market, said Angela Farley, senior vice president of education, Dallas Regional Chamber. Farley gave the keynote address during the event and encouraged the group to help students be realistic.

According to Farley, there is a real disconnect between what some students expect to make in their first job and reality. She cited a national Charles Schwab survey in which students reported an average expected salary of $73,000 in their first job.

The group reviewed skills employers are looking for when filling positions. The list includes those skills that align with the Texas College and Career Readiness Standards Foundational Skills—reading, writing, research, use of data and technology. They also looked at non-academic skills that are critical, like self-management, positive mindset, interpersonal and communication skills, and creativity and critical thinking abilities.

Farley stressed the importance of helping students understand the opportunities available to them.

“Kids have to see it to aspire to be it,” Farley said.

Internships and programs like the chamber’s Future Focus Summer Camp provide students with firsthand knowledge of career fields. Additionally, the district and chamber’s Pick Your Path plan is designed to help eighth-grade students start career exploration before high school and provide insight into areas of study.

The Emmett J. Conrad High School Culinary Arts students, one of the district’s CTE programs, treated CTE teachers attending the event to hors d’oeuvres.

Throughout February, CTE programs across the country are taking time to promote awareness about the important work being done in career and technical education.

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