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PA's Career and Technical Education Program gets national recognition

More and more, policymakers, employers, and parents are realizing that career and technical education is a pathway to success for today's students.

As part of a growing national conversation about CTE, "CBS Sunday Morning" featured a segment called, "Rebuilding America's pool of construction workers." The segment highlighted Pennsylvania's own Lehigh Career & Technical Institute. It's one of the largest career and technical institutions in the U.S. and offers Lehigh Valley students hands-on training in more than 40 trades and a path to a successful career in business technology, health and human services, engineering, and many other in-demand fields.

"I think the piece reinforces what we've known for some time," said Dave Namey, president of PSEA's Department of Career and Technical Studies. "In career and technical education, students receive both theoretical learning and hands-on experience. CTE gives them the experience and skills to find a good job after graduation."

CBS Sunday on Career and Technical Education

 
 New law gives CTE students a graduation alternative to Keystone Exams

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill into law in June that gives career and technical education students an alternative to the high-stakes Keystone Exams for high school graduation. Under Act 6 of 2017, students studying in vocational and technical education programs will be able to demonstrate their college and career readiness through their grades and alternate assessments or industry-based certifications.

This move recognizes that students should have multiple pathways to graduation and that graduation decisions should be based upon a student's entire academic record and career goals, rather than the results of a single standardized test. This change ensures that CTE students leave high school ready for postsecondary success, whether that means employment or postsecondary education, or both.

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Reports: CTE serves workforce needs

Career and technical education is not just the "vocational education" of years past. That's one of the key messages in two new reports on the matter.

A report issued by the Education Policy and Leadership Center points out that "major changes have occurred as new programs have been created, new technologies embraced, and new opportunities established for students to pursue varied pathways that lead to substantial employment and careers."

The PA House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness report says "CTE students leave high school ready for postsecondary success." However, positions in occupations in traditionally CTE-related fields "go unfilled because prospective workers do not have the educational background or professional background demanded by today's economy. This disconnect between the needs of employers and the skill set of prospective employers, often referred to as a 'skills gap,' threatens to hinder the growth of the state's economy, impacting industry and regions across the state and discouraging employers from hiring."

The point is that CTE is a key way that public education serves Pennsylvania's student and workforce needs as demand for these programs continues to grow.

Champions at work: Job-ready, day one

That's the theme of this year's Pennsylvania SkillsUSA competition which brings together thousands of CTE students from across the state to demonstrate the occupational skills they have developed in their classrooms or work-based learning sites.

The competition, held April 18-20 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, is an opportunity for CTE students to showcase the leadership and talent they will bring to the 21st century workforce.

Winners of the competition will represent Pennsylvania at the national SkillsUSA competition this summer.

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Partner Benefits Spotlight: Hit the slopes and save this winter

Planning to hit the slopes before spring? A weekend of snowboarding? Before you book your lift tickets, check out your Partners Benefits to see how much you can save.

Simply go to the Access Program website and log in (or create an account using your Partners' membership number). Then look under the "Ski and Snowboard" category (on the left side of your screen) for discounts and savings in your neighborhood.

  
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