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CTE grows to meet real-world needs

New York Teacher
Leo Gordon

Leo Gordon
VP for CTE High Schools

Career and technical education programs in New York City public schools have advanced significantly over the past 10 years, with a stronger emphasis placed on technology, industry relationships and in-demand skills. Because of these improvements, CTE programs have become more effective in preparing students for fulfilling professions.

Technology has become more integrated in the educational system in an effort to simulate real-life situations. Students at Aviation HS in Queens have access to pilot training for emerging air taxi services, for example, and the school’s virtual reality flight simulators provide students with flying instruction certified by the FAA. With the help of its brand-new simulator, the Brooklyn STEAM Center will soon begin providing forklift training and certification. These advancements help students become more engaged in their education by making what they are studying more relevant. Additionally, they assist in preparing students for the increasingly technical nature of jobs in the world today.

The city’s CTE programs have increased the number of relationships they have with companies and industry leaders. Students at the Harbor School on Governors Island were able to learn about the marine environment while applying trade skills such as welding and piloting boats as part of the Billion Oyster Project that was conducted in conjunction with the school. The collaboration between the Food Education Fund and schools including Long Island City HS in Queens has resulted in a number of students gaining job experience and internships in a variety of restaurants and culinary-related establishments. Students are given the opportunity to develop an experience that is relevant to the real world, and employers profit from these relationships that build a pipeline of workers who possess the skills needed in their sectors.

New York City’s CTE programs emphasize industry-specific skills and knowledge aligned with the local labor market’s in-demand needs. Schools are able to employ outside advisory networks because of their partnerships with organizations such as the National Academy Foundation. These networks provide a structured curriculum that is in line with current trends in a particular business. To guarantee that students graduate ready for careers of their choosing, the curricula are continually revised with feedback from local businesses. If it weren’t for these groups providing direction and assistance, it would be nearly impossible for schools to keep up with the tremendous pace at which industry is growing.

CTE programs also are expanding the variety of skills they teach to include problem-solving, critical thinking and communication. These so-called soft skills are vital for success in any career path.

New York City public schools have added more than 30 new programs, the most ever in one year, to their catalog of CTE options. Both the governor and the mayor recognize the significance of CTE and are focusing on workforce development partnerships that are closely aligned with CTE programs of study.

The future of CTE looks bright. As technology and the economy continue to evolve and the demand for skilled workers continues to grow, it is essential to keep investing in CTE programs to ensure our students have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.