Magazine article Techniques

Bridges Connect Teachers, Programs, State Consultants, Teacher Educators and Industry

Magazine article Techniques

Bridges Connect Teachers, Programs, State Consultants, Teacher Educators and Industry

Article excerpt

AS THE LABOR FORCE CONTINUES TO AGE AND NEW PARTICIPATION RATES DECLINE, INDUSTRIES' demand for a strong, skilled workforce continues to increase - an expected 6.5 percent between 2014 and 2024 ("Employment projections," 2015). Many of the fastest growing occupations for 2014-24 include areas of career and technical education (CTE) ("Employment projections," 2015), such as health care services, food preparation and management, and construction labor. CTE programs are stepping up to the plate and building bridges for success to prepare the workforce of tomorrow.

As career and technical education program administrators strive to produce well-trained employees, they are faced with challenging times due at least in part to a teacher shortage. A report from the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium suggests contributors to this shortage include an increase in the number of students enrolled in CTE courses; elimination of many existing CTE teacher-education programs; and a growing number of CTE teacher retirements (2009). Teacher shortage challenges and increased workforce needs led to the development of the Kansas Center for Career and Technical Education (KCCTE). The KCCTE focuses on four pillars to build a strong foundation for CTE teacher development:

* Technical workshops for skill development

* Educational resource library for access to CTE-specific instructional materials

* Mentoring for support and networking with new teachers

* Coursework for pedagogical development

Each area of teacher support and development helps to bridge the gap between education and the workforce.

History

In 2014, a legislative enhancement was passed to fund a center for career and technical education in the state of Kansas, allowing for $1 million a year to be directed toward the professional development of CTE teachers at the secondary and postsecondary levels. Since it was established in 2014, the KCCTE supports more than 1,000 CTE teachers and CTE professionals registered with the center. Registrants participate in numerous workshops, mentoring opportunities, and have access to resources and CTE-specific coursework.

Research was conducted in the state of Kansas to identify what contributed to retention of CTE teachers in order to identify their professional needs. Influences associated with secondary career and technical education teacher retention explored in the research included educational preparation, teacher commitment, social integration, first year teaching experience, skills and abilities, institutional factors and content area (Su, Dainty, Sandford, Townsend, & Belcher, 2011).

Continued Skill Development

Industry skills practice is often challenging to maintain once the busy school year begins. Keeping up-to-date and maintaining skills within one's occupational area often falls to the wayside as teaching demands increase. However, it is vital that CTE teachers continue to learn current tools, equipment and teaching methods in their content area; technical workshops help teachers enhance their industry skill and keep abreast of current trends.

Workshops are held at various locations throughout Kansas and across secondary and postsecondary levels, providing opportunities for teachers to see other facilities, classrooms and lab arrangements. The workshops offer hands-on approaches to relevant content, and educators leave with teachable resources and lessons. Often, workshops will include state-of-the-art tools and equipment for use in labs or classroom settings. Collaboration with gas-engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton resulted in the provision of an OHV Series engine with a special toolkit at the completion of a small gas engines workshop. Some workshops provide participants with a certification upon completion, such as ServSafe Food Managers Certification. Attendance benefits - reduced cost of equipment and tools, credentials - encourage continued personal development and innovation among teachers. …

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