In good news for construction and training efforts, an LRC Study Committee on Career and Technical Education has been authorized to make recommendations for next year’s long session, reports the Carolinas AGC’s Weekly NewsBreak. The committee, under the LRC, is directed to recommend how “to improve the quality and relevance of the training, align basic education and vocational and higher education training and ensure that students who are not college bound are career ready.”
A co-chair of the influential LRC Study Committee said at the group’s first meeting on September 27 that North Carolina needs “a first-class program” for Career and Technical Education (CTE) that will “marry the public schools and the community colleges. Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), committee co-chair said, “We have a rocky relationship right now.”
Tillman’s comments were made in a two-hour meeting of the committee, which is expected to make CTE recommendations to the N.C. General Assembly after it convenes its long session on January. 30, 2013. The first meeting of the committee focused on CTE presentations from the public schools and community colleges.
June Atkinson, state schools superintendent who noted in her presentation that she is a former vocational education student and teacher, said that CTE “has a long and rich history in North Carolina.” She said CTE served 804,850 enrollees (grades 6-12) in the 2010-11 school year, preparing them for high-wage and high-skill occupations as well as continuing education in the community colleges and universities.
How CTE students are faring
A pamphlet distributed at the meeting by the Public Schools of North Carolina (State Board of Education/Department of Public Instruction) noted that the graduation rate for students with CTE concentrations continued to outpace the overall graduation rate in the past five years. In 2011, for example, the graduation rate for students in a “four-year cohort” was 89.6 percent, compared with a 77.9 percent overall rate in the public schools. In addition, the brochure said that 80.1 percent of CTE students agreed or strongly agreed with the idea that “CTE was a main reason I stayed in school.”
Scott Ralls, president of the N.C. Community College System, told the committee that the community colleges offer 10 different CTE paths leading to a degree, diploma or certificate. “I think our community colleges are very focused on career technical education,” he said. Ralls noted that Asheville-Buncombe Tech Community College, for example, offers Career and College Promise programs with CPE pathways that include automotive systems technology, computer-integrated machining, criminal justice technology, entrepreneurship, heavy equipment/transport technology, industry systems technology, web technology and welding technology.
In the 2010-11 school year, Ralls said, nearly two-thirds of the students in the community colleges across the state were female. Specifically, 216,249 students (61 percent) were female, compared with 140,274 (39 percent) male enrollees. Interestingly, of students taking CTE-related programs (biological and chemical, construction, engineering, industrial and transport systems technologies), 26,734 students (92 percent) were male compared with 2,479 (8 percent) female students.
Jobs the community colleges identified that employers can’t fill include welders, truck drivers, software developers, laborers (lack of experience/technical skills), nurses, machinists, accountants, scientific researchers, administrative assistants, leisure and hospitality workers and repair technicians.
Ralls made these “help-wanted” recommendations to the committee:
•Targeted year-round CTE funding.
•Extending and scaling NC back-to-work efforts.
•Strengthening community college/high school collaboration on technician programs.
•Expanding, renovating and better equipping community college shops and labs.
In its first committee meeting, Tillman said that before moving forward, the committee first needs to get a good primer on where the public schools and community colleges are concerning CTE. The next meeting will be at 10 am on October. 23 in room 415 of the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh. Read More.