WHAT IS CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION?
; Career and technical education (CTE) prepares both youth and adults for a wide range of
careers and further educational opportunities. These careers may require varying levels of
education—including industry-recognized credentials, postsecondary certificates, and
two- and four-year degrees.
; CTE is offered in middle schools, high schools, area career and technical centers,
community and technical colleges, and other postsecondary institutions.
; The most recent Report to Congress on the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical
Education Act revealed that approximately 14 million students participated in secondary
and postsecondary CTE programs during the 2007-2008 school year.
; According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult
Education (OVAE), almost all high school students take at least one CTE course, and one
in four students take three or more courses in a single program area. One-third of college
students are involved in CTE programs, and as many as 40 million adults engage in short-
term postsecondary occupational training.
; CTE is at the forefront of preparing students to be “college- and career-ready.” CTE equips
; core academic skills and the ability to apply those skills to concrete situations in order
to function in the workplace and in routine daily activities
; employability skills (such as critical thinking and responsibility) that are essential in
any career area
; job-specific, technical skills related to a specific career pathway
; Within CTE, occupations and career specialties are grouped into “Career Clusters.” Each
of the 16 clusters is based on a set of common knowledge and skills that prepare learners
for a full range of opportunities.
; Further specialization is achieved through comprehensive Programs of Study, which align
academic and technical content in a coordinated, non-duplicative sequence of secondary
and postsecondary courses, and lead to an industry-recognized credential or certificate at
the postsecondary level, or an associate or baccalaureate degree.
; Career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) are an integral part of CTE. CTSOs
prepare young people to become productive citizens and leaders in their communities by
providing unique programs of career and leadership development, motivation, and
recognition for students enrolled, or previously enrolled, in CTE programs.
; CTE Increases Student Achievement:
; A ratio of one CTE class for every two academic classes minimizes the risk of students
dropping out of high school. (Plank et al, “Dropping Out of High School and the Place of
Career and Technical Education,” 2005.)
; 81 percent of dropouts said that “more real-world learning” may have influenced them
to stay in school. (Bridgeland et al, “The Silent Epidemic,” 2005.)
; The more students participate in CTSO activities, the higher their academic motivation,
academic engagement, grades, career self-efficacy and college aspirations. (Alfeld et al,
“Looking Inside the Black Box: The Value Added by Career and Technical Student Organizations
to Students’ High School Experience,” 2007.)
; Students who complete a rigorous academic core coupled with a career concentration
have test scores that equal or exceed “college prep” students. These dual-concentrators
are more likely to pursue postsecondary education, have a higher grade point average in
college and are less likely to drop out in the first year. (Southern Regional Education Board,
“Facts About High School Career/Technical Studies.”)
; CTE students are significantly more likely than their non-CTE counterparts to report
that they developed problem-solving, project completion, research, math, college
application, work-related, communication, time management, and critical thinking skills
during high school. (Lekes et al, “Career and Technical Education Pathway Programs,
Academic Performance, and the Transition to College and Career,” 2007.)
; CTE Meets Individual and Community Economic Needs:
; According to the BLS, of the 20 fastest growing occupations, 10 require an associate’s
degree or less. Furthermore, of the 20 occupations with the largest numbers of new jobs
projected for 2018, 13 require on-the-job training or an associate’s degree.
; More than 80 percent of respondents in the 2005 National Association of Manufacturer’s
Skills Gap Report indicated that they are experiencing a shortage of qualified workers
overall—with 13 percent reporting severe shortages and 68 percent indicating moderate
shortages. CTE plays a vital role in helping American business close this gap by building
a competitive workforce for the 21st century.
; A person with a CTE-related associate degree or credential will earn an average of
between $5,000 and $15,000 more a year than a person with a humanities or social
sciences associate degree—and those with credentials in high-demand fields such as
healthcare can average almost $20,000 more a year. (Jacobson et al, “Pathways to Boosting
the Earnings of Low-Income Students by Increasing Their Educational Attainment,” 2009.)
; According to the state of Washington, for every dollar spent on secondary CTE students,
federal and state governments will receive seven dollars back in social security,
Medicare, and federal and state taxes. (Washington State Workforce Training and Education
Coordinating Board, Workforce Training Results-2006, January 2007.)
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation’s largest education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. For more information visit
ACTE’s Web site at www.acteonline.org or call 800-826-9972.