Getting Technical: Celebrating career-education paths today helps students own tomorrow

Emmy Beeson
Guest columnist

As a country, we have just navigated the holiday season.

As individuals and families, we have created traditions and rituals to celebrate what is important to us.

Emmy Beeson is superintendent of Tolles Career & Technical Center.

We all have that special something we do or think about as we move through the holiday season. Every culture in the world does this. We create milestones, rituals, traditions and celebrations to remind ourselves of what is important to us.

We find these traditions in a variety of forms, such as the recognition of Memorial Day or Labor Day, Boss’s Day, Mother’s Day and even National Doughnut Day.

From the sacred to the important to the silly, we find ways to celebrate and remember.

In February, we solemnly recognize Black History Month.

There is also a celebration for something on each day of February, ranging from Groundhog Day on Feb. 2 to National Pizza Day on Feb. 9.

Another celebration designated for the month of February is Career and Technical Education Month.

Why would we set aside a month to understand and promote career-technical education? According to the Association for Career and Technical Education, "Career and technical education, or CTE, is education that directly prepares students for high-wage, high-demand careers. CTE covers many different fields, including health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing, hospitality and management and many more. ... CTE encompasses many different types of education, from classroom learning to certification programs to work-based learning opportunities outside the classroom.”

Because of this, a public-awareness campaign was created to promote the value of career-technical education, along with sharing the achievements and accomplishments of those supported by career-technical education.

What are those noteworthy accomplishments, per the association?

CTE highlights

• At the secondary level, career-technical education is delivered through middle schools, comprehensive high schools, career academies and CTE centers in comprehensive/compact school districts and joint vocational school districts, and through community schools. In our region, CTE is provided by Tolles Career & Technical Center to seven school districts – Dublin and Hilliard included – with 11 high schools.

• At the postsecondary and adult level, career-technical education is delivered through community colleges, Ohio Technical Centers and the Aspire program. The technical centers provide labor-market-driven, postsecondary workforce education and training services. Tolles serves as an Ohio Technical Center, providing adult education in public safety (fire/EMS) and industrial maintenance.

• In Ohio, during the 2017-18 school year, 119,772 high school students and 95,408 postsecondary students participated in career-technical education.

Student performance (2018)

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education and the Ohio Department of Education:

• 96% of secondary CTE concentrators graduated.

• At graduation, almost 25% had earned 3-plus dual-enrollment credits, and almost 25% had earned a 12-point credential within a career field.

• 94% of secondary CTE concentrators went on to postsecondary education, the workforce, the military or an apprenticeship.

• 86% of postsecondary CTE concentrators went on to the workforce, the military or an apprenticeship.

Although these are great stats and important information, the reason they become important is when we as a community understand the labor market trends that career-technical education supports, According to data from the National Skills Coalition and the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce’s Good Jobs Project:

• 55% of Ohio’s labor market consists of middle-skill jobs, but only 47% of the state’s workers are trained at the middle-skill level.

• The top five industries for “good jobs” that pay a median income of $55,000-plus without a bachelor’s degree are production, management, office and administrative support, transportation and material moving and sales.

It is worth celebrating an educational platform that allows young people to move into well-paying jobs. When we couple this platform with the skills students need, knowing that 94% of secondary CTE students go on to postsecondary education, the workforce, the military or an apprenticeship, we have a real recipe for success.  

Will you join Tolles in celebrating Career and Technical Education Month? Will you make sure every young person and every parent of a young person knows there are multiple pathways to reach success and the best-kept secret in our community is career-technical education?  

The slogan for Career and Technical Education Month 2021 is “Celebrate today. Own tomorrow." What a powerful vision. Tolles is here to help our communities own tomorrow.

Emmy Beeson is superintendent of Tolles Career & Technical Center, which includes students from the Dublin and Hilliard school districts. Contact her at ebeeson@ tollestech.com.