BOUNTIFUL—When parents and students think of CTE (Career and Technical Education) in high school, some dismiss it as woodshop or sewing lab – but it’s so much more.
“It’s important to realize how broad it encompasses,” said Neil Hancey, Supervisor, CTE for the Davis School District. “We have classes that can get kids certificates in health and IT right in high school. They can get manufacturing jobs at Boeing right out of high school.”
The need was so great for employees in the aerospace industry employers came to the governor and told him they needed entry level workers right now said Hancey, so he created the Utah Aerospace Pathways program.
“They’re offering jobs that pay $15 an hour to start,” he said. “After a short time students can get full benefits and school reimbursement. If they want to continue working there, they’re fully open to that and supportive. Until people take a tour of ATK or the KIHOMAC building they don’t realize, ‘my son or daughter can be part of building those planes.’”
Hancey said industry in Utah is growing and through the CTE program students can be ready. “If we know what the industries need we can work backwards and train students early.”
Davis School District offers more than 120 CTE classes with a coordinator at each school, said CTE Director, Jay Welk. “A parent I was talking to during an interview last spring said, 'I wish I’d know all this when my kids went through Viewmont,’” he said. “We’ve had a problem getting the word out about all the opportunities available.”
Jan Wray, work based learning coordinator/internships at Bountiful High is passionate about helping students find their career path.
“We teach ethics, attitudes and have teamwork exercises,” she said. “Our goal is to make these kids great employees. We try to give them some meat.”
Under Wray’s direction, a group of students from both Woods Cross and Bountiful gathered last week to participate in mock interviews with actual business owners and HR personnel to practice the skills they’ve been learning in class.
“The kids I place in internships have to have some background in the field,” said Wray. “Medical kids have to have a CNA, medical anatomy or emergency response, law kids need business and communications, chemical engineers need math and chemistry. Our mentors expect our kids to be good and they are. They’re the top kids in school.”
Wray’s class is a semester long. “You can take one per year as a senior,” she said. “So they really have to plan for it. I take applications their junior year and the classes fill up fast. At the end of the year I’ve helped about 300 kids. It makes me feel happy because about 90 percent get jobs from the internships.”
From business to programming drones, the CTE program offers a little bit of everything. “CTE is the only content area that prepares students for any outlet,” said Hancey. “They can do concurrent enrollment to a certificate. It prepares students at every single level whether they want a job right out of high school or they’re going on to college.”
“We’re looking at putting composite training into the new Farmington High,” said Welk. “They’re programming drones at Northridge and there’s a gaming program already at Woods Cross. We’re trying to stay up with the emerging careers. We’re always evaluating so we can offer programs that kids can step right into the industry.”
Hancey said it comes down to parents and students understanding what the program offers. “I’ll say what are your goals?” he said. “Parents will say, ‘my child can’t take CTE, he doesn’t need it.’ I tell them at some point in life their child is going to go into that business and do they realize how beneficial it would be to have taken a CTE business class? It teaches skills they need to know. We don’t just teach content, we teach the student to survive and thrive in the community. It’s not just woodshop or sewing lab – CTE classes are for everyone.”