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CTE Pipeline: What is it, Why It’s Important & How to Build One

CTE Pipeline: What is it, Why It’s Important & How to Build One

What is a CTE Pipeline?

A career and technical education (CTE) pipeline is an educational framework that teaches age-appropriate skills to encourage and prepare students to find something that aligns with their skills and passions. This pipeline helps get students interested and moves them toward what could be their profession by using work-based learning.

These career pathways start with base-level introductions for grade school-aged children and add more details and skills as students get older. 

This continues into middle and high school, with high schoolers encouraged to take school CTE courses culminating in certifications that help them transition into their desired career fields immediately after high school. 

By consciously choosing to give activities that emphasize abilities required for trades and industry, teachers can easily teach CTE thinking in elementary school kids.

Community-based learning can also nourish a CTE pipeline in your school system. 

Community-based learning seeks to motivate students by giving them interesting tasks to do. There are several ways this style of education incorporates the local community and environment into the classroom.

By working with others, students better understand their own motivations, skills, and potential. It improves schoolwork, helps students become more employable, and strengthens their soft skills, all of which are crucial when deciding on a future profession.

Teachers facilitate student-to-student, student-to-professional, and student-to-local business connections via community-based learning.

What is the Impact of the CTE Pipeline?

Students are more likely to discover their niche in life and achieve academic and social success when they’re encouraged to explore a wide range of activities. For example, a coding club in grade school might spark an interest that leads to a career in software engineering. These experiences help decrease the number of students who don’t know what to do when they graduate high school. It will also help students with skills outside those that lead to traditional career prep, like college, find trades or specializations. 

High-quality CTE programs have increased high school graduation rates, college enrollment, and incomes for more than 12 million high school students. They allow students to get real-world experience via internships and other work-based learning opportunities and obtain certifications and college credit while still in high school, all within a curriculum centered on a specific career path. Also, students who have fallen behind in school seem to benefit significantly from CTE programs.

State and federal funding of these programs have shown an impact in encouraging more students to get certifications in technical careers, like designing and building environmentally “green” buildings. 

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, using Career and Professional Education (CAPE) funds to help defray the cost of course materials and test registration makes these technical courses more widely available to students.

Policymakers must learn from the abundant data on high school vocational and technical education programs that have proven effective in preparing students for jobs and use this information to generate a strong pipeline of skilled workers in the green economy.

Tips for CTE Pipeline Creation

If you’re ready to create or strengthen the CTE pipeline in your district, here are a few tips. 

  • Create clubs and extracurricular groups that help students discover and bond around shared passions. 
  • Make systems of the world part of early childhood education, not just career day. 
  • Help students to connect with subject matter experts in a variety of fields via presentations, field trips, career fairs, and other special events. 
  • Encourage relevant local companies to contribute to building the CTE pipeline in their area by making a donation or volunteering their time. 
  • Increase local staffing by nurturing local students to become CTE teachers or make it easier for professionals to get into the field.
  • Lobby your government to recognize the LEED Green Associate credential.
  • Allow desired professionals to teach part-time.
  • Increase teachers’ and professors’ pay based on their professional expertise to better compete with the business world.
  • Provide a continuum of support for seasoned educators by reorganizing new teacher induction programs to extend resources and mentoring opportunities during the first year.
  • Improve your network’s ties to the established systems that train teachers.
  • Recruit and educate new teachers in various methods to increase the number of people who can fill CTE classrooms.

Want to strengthen the CTE pipeline in your classroom or district? Get started with our STEAM, coding, and science solutions for students.