Workforce Competencies and Career and Technical Education

Workforce Competencies and Career and Technical Education

Maria Martinez Witte (Auburn University, USA), James E. Witte (Auburn University, USA), and Leane B. Skinner (Auburn University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-747-3.ch007
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The need for workforce ready students can be met through the use of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. Identification of workplace skills that are rewarded and required by employers will foster relationships between CTE programs and workforce employers. These relationships will also impact economic growth, school-to-work efforts, and the global workforce. This chapter addresses the workforce competencies of business and industry and CTE programs as well as addressing shortfalls in these areas. Future trends are also identified in regards to workforce competencies in CTE programs.
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7.2 Background

A skilled workforce is the key to a viable and healthy economic local, regional, national and global position. Competing internationally is dependent on the skills of our workforce (Adult Learning, 2008). Heinrich, Jordan, and Smalley (2005) emphasized the need for quality mathematics education since U.S. high school students, when compared to students from other countries, were not competitive in mathematics knowledge. It is unrealistic to expect students, who only complete basic high school requirements to be sufficiently ready to meet progressive workforce needs. The role of education has remained constant as Venn (1970) stated “We must accept the belief that it is a responsibility of education to help young people find a meaningful role in society in which they can make increasing contributions and accept increasing responsibilities” (p. 16).

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs can serve as a retention option to keep some students from dropping out of high school. CTE programs can be a conduit to specific fields and allow flexible curriculum content (Benson, Johnson, Taylor, Treat, Shinkareva, & Duncan, 2004; Peters, 2008). These programs are geared to prepare students for both employment and college experiences and can provide a workforce with skills necessary to gain and sustain employment. CTE is part of the larger secondary school reform effort (Peters, 2008) and exposes and attracts students to academic areas and can also aid in keeping students in school (Salopek, 2007).

It is important that Career and Technical Education administrators recognize that students can achieve academically through a wide range of learning experiences. CTE courses supplement required coursework and promote increased student involvement and interest. Emphasis is on “CTE leadership that maintains the secondary delivery system and improves or initiates the relationship with the adult CTE student, economic development initiatives, and postsecondary occupational education” (Career and Technical Education Administration, 2006, A-1).

Advisors or counselors also influence students to participate in CTE areas as possible career paths. High school teachers can draw parallels between academic coursework and the world of work (Peters, 2008). The competency-based education (CBE) model is often associated with secondary and postsecondary workforce education and begins with an assumption of providing instruction to students and an analysis of the task to be taught. Gray and Herr (1998) listed CBE characteristics as:

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