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Arizona’s Economy Needs to Ensure Students are Prepared for the Workforce

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs can Pave the Way

Co-authored: Jennifer Mellor, Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation and Stacy Derstine, APS

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) month. It’s a time to highlight the importance and benefits of CTE programs, celebrate teachers and students, and educate Arizona businesses about why they should get involved. CTE programs range from nursing to construction, technologies to cybersecurity. As Arizona’s economy continues to evolve, we must ensure that students are prepared for the future workforce. That is why the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation’s education initiative, ElevateEdAZ, is laser-focused on CTE programs that lead to high-wage, high-demand college and career pathways.

The Association for Career & Technical Education recently released a study showing how CTE benefits students, businesses, and the community. The report showed 94 percent of students who pursue CTE programs graduate high school and most enroll directly into college. CTE programs provide an opportunity for students to gain critical technical skills while completing their general education studies. By participating in these programs, students can learn skills in the classroom and on the job through work-based learning experiences, ultimately leading to industry credentials, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees.

CTE empowers students with skills they can use throughout their career and daily lives while providing a pathway to further their education and career development. Increasing student awareness and access to CTE high-wage, high-demand pathways exposes them to different career opportunities in their communities. CTE programs allow students to test drive those career opportunities as part of their high school journey, allowing them to make more informed choices on their post-graduation journey. With 13 high schools across the Greater Phoenix region engaged in ElevateEdAZ’s program, we are committed to increasing access to these programs and providing connected work-based learning experiences to apply their classroom teachings.

Through ElevateEdAZ, numerous students have been able to gain a deeper insight into different career pathways. A recent intern thought he wanted to go into manufacturing technologies, all to learn that his true passion was welding, where he secured full-time employment with Honeywell Aerospace. Other students recently participated in a job shadow that exposed them to careers as line-workers with APS, a high-paying career that most people have never heard of. By opening these doors to students early in their education journey, we are putting them on a pathway to success.

We invite more Arizona businesses to engage with ElevateEdAZ and high school CTE programs to build capacity in these programs, provide career awareness to students, and develop the future workforce. To learn more about ways your business can engage with students, visit: ElevateEdAZ.

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