Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) celebrates February as Career Technical Education (CTE) Month. The recognition offers the opportunity to highlight the growing importance and impact CTE has on education and the economy in West Virginia and around the country. The WVDE CTE program resides in ongoing work in elementary, middle and high schools as well in 22 CTE centers and seven multi-county vocational centers statewide.
CTE Month, established by the Association for Career and Technical Education, began in the 1980s and brings public awareness to the accomplishments of CTE programs and students. In the Mountain State, the WVDE continues to expand the reach of career exploration to students from elementary to high school as well as to adult learners. By exposing younger learners to the 16 national career clusters, they participate in project-based learning that expands their understanding of the pathways available to them.
During the 2022-23 school year in West Virginia:
- 30,786 or 56% of all students in grades 6 – 8 were enrolled in a career exploration course
- 44,524 high school students participated in CTE
- More than 7,000 high school students graduated from a CTE program.
According to national research, the United States will face a 6.5 million skilled worker deficit by 2030 in key industries including healthcare, manufacturing, infrastructure, operations and logistics, information technology and education.
In West Virginia, CTE prepares students with highly engaging, concentrated academics paired with hands-on, real-world work experience. Students kick-start their careers through initiatives such as Simulated Workplace and apprenticeship opportunities and enter the workforce well-prepared, having earned critical workforce credentials. Pathways can also reduce college costs as students satisfy some course and clinical requirements while in high school. Nursing students, for example, can earn an associate degree through their local CTE program, and complete college in two years as a registered nurse.
“CTE is so much different than what many adults remember from years ago,” said WVDE Assistant Superintendent Clinton Burch. “Our students are thriving in rigorous classrooms and developing professional and soft skills that make them competitive job candidates. Our Governor’s Workforce Credential is a badge of honor because students must have at least a 3.0 grade point average, a 95 percent attendance rate, be drug free and secure at least one industry certification to earn it. So, it tells employers these students are career ready.”
Employers are taking notice with 6,000 high school students participating in 1.2 million work-based hours in the state. This means they have worked closely with industries in their fields of study to gain expertise and preparation before graduation.
The WVDE has launched and expanded several middle school programs over the past five years including:
- Discover Your Future - Introduces students to the 16 national career clusters through hands on activities
- Project Lead the Way – Gateway STEM includes individual courses in Robotics, Flight & Space, Computer Science, Green Architecture, biomedical, etc. and offers specialized training and funding for teachers to be certified
- Empowerment Collaborative – Partnership with Mountain State Educational Collaborative offering project-based learning and community connections
- AG/FFA – Environmental Awareness, Biotechnology, Horticulture, AG Science & Technology, etc. offered in 41 middle schools around the state
The WVDE will visit CTE programs around the state throughout the month of February to highlight innovations and activities that are making an impact on students and the workforce. Additional information will be distributed as dates for those events approach.
For media inquiries, contact Christy Day, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or Christy.Day@k12.wv.us.