In the not-so-recent past, the educational area between a high school diploma and a four-year college degree was something of a no-man’s land, lacking many options for career education or less-than-four-year degrees.
In recent years, however, that situation has been turned on its head, especially with the proliferation of “new collar” jobs, defined as jobs that require some type of post-secondary degree but not necessarily a four-year college degree. The demand for these jobs has led to a major resurgence in career and technical education (CTE) programs, which are very similar to the vocational trade programs that were prominent in the 20th century in that they offer hands-on job experience in a field that doesn’t necessarily require a four-year degree.
Much of this is due to the job market. In order to meet the demands of the labor market, students are “learning to code software, design websites, or operate robots and artificial intelligence systems that have replaced manual labor jobs across much of the economy,” as a blog post from the American Society for Nondestructive Testing notes. As a result, students get a hands-on chance to practice some of the most in-demand skills in today’s labor market and potentially find a strong fit early in their professional careers.
Graduates of the Master of Education – Career and Technical Education (CTE) online program from Eastern Washington University (EWU) will be equipped with advanced knowledge you need to help students develop in-demand vocational skills, particularly in the technical, business and marketing industries.
While many traditional vocational and CTE opportunities such as automotive work remain, the full breadth of today’s CTE work spans much wider. The National Education Association writes that possibilities include software coding, website design, operating robot and artificial intelligence systems, alternative energy installation, cybersecurity and more. While vocational courses of the past were often a pathway to a specific industry or trade, CTE courses are more common across curricula, offering a potential avenue to industry or simply a way to get hands-on experience.
This kind of hands-on learning pays dividends for all kinds of students. The U.S. Green Building Council writes that “hands-on learning allows every student … to actively engage in subject matter to solve a problem, physically create and put concepts into action. It gives students the opportunity to experiment, to fail and to apply knowledge.” In other words, it fosters the kinds of life and work skills required after high school.
In many CTE programs, these learning opportunities align with growing industries or those facing a shortage of workers in the face of evolving technologies. By giving students hands-on experience, schools are arming them with foundational skills to succeed in that industry — or the first-hand knowledge to know they’d prefer something else.
EWU’s Master of Education in Career and Technical Education online program favors an open approach to CTE application in order to help students find the best possible fit for themselves. Graduates learn to identify specific barriers to student success and utilize work-based learning practices for diverse audiences and occupations in order to help create a rewarding outcome and suitable career options for students. The program also provides graduates with real-world experience as well, completing an internship as an active practitioner in a secondary classroom or a skills center is one of the centerpieces of EWU’s program.
EWU graduates will have mastered CTE educational concepts and strategies and be able to meaningfully apply them in real-world situations, helping prepare their students for the demands of modern “new collar” industries.