Bioscience

Program points students down career path that interests them

October 4, 2006

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: Meghan Moravcik, Arizona Republic] — John Mulcahy, director of Career and Technical Education for the Peoria Unified School District, talks about students and CTE.

Question: Why should students take career and technical education classes?

Answer: It provides direction for children at an early age and allows them to try on careers. A student at any one of our high schools could try on dozens of careers, while they’re still in high school, to determine if that’s what they really want to do. Our health care program, for example, is for students with a sincere interest in nursing. They can go through nursing program, do clinical experience and say, “Is nursing what I really want to do?” without (waiting until they get to college and) finding out their junior year that it’s not what they really want to do. It’s an exemplary model for education if you look at how CTE is organized every CTE program is made up of classroom instruction, a laboratory portion, where kids get a chance to apply the theory, and work-based learning. Every child has an opportunity to engage in work-based learning, whether that’s job shadowing or an internship or apprenticeship. We truly address the total child – the head, the hands, the heart – they get it all.

Q: What is the difference between CTE and the vocational programs of the past?

A: We often think it (vocational education) was rather narrowly focused on jobs, as opposed to careers, and it was often focused on jobs that were very much sub-baccalaureate. Vocational education was for kids who were going to work as soon as they graduated. That doesn’t mean we don’t serve kids who are going to work right away, but CTE prepares students for the world of work and for post-secondary education.

Q: Will the skills learned in specific CTE classes be useful for students if they don’t end up in those fields?

A: We talk about the transferability of skills all the time. There’s a set of core standards that are soft skills and are very much applicable to careers out there, such as interviewing, r