Career, Technical Education Broadens across Western Pennsylvania

By Kurutz, Daveen Rae | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 7, 2010 | Go to article overview

Career, Technical Education Broadens across Western Pennsylvania


Kurutz, Daveen Rae, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


When Marissa Meile graduates from North Hills High School, a diploma won't be the only thing she receives. Also a student at A.W. Beattie Career Center, Meile will leave as a certified dental assistant, which she believes will better prepare her for a dental hygienist program at the University of Pittsburgh.

"The kids at my school say the people who go to Beattie don't want to go to college and don't know what to do," said Meile, 18, of Ross. "When we come here, we are getting ready for college."

Career and technical schools, commonly known as vo-tech schools, traditionally have been geared to students who planned to enter the workforce right after high school. But with many "blue-collar" jobs now requiring more than a high school diploma, these schools are focusing on college-readiness, and their graduates are walking away with industry certifications and college credits.

Meile's circumstances aren't unusual. The number of Pennsylvania students receiving certifications through a career and technical education program has more than doubled in the past five years, according to the state Department of Education.

"The students today are savvy enough to understand that requirements today are different than the past," said Kurt Speicher, principal at Butler County Area Vocational Technical School. "Their education isn't going to stop at the secondary level -- they are going to achieve something more."

Enrollment is down 9 percent locally in the last five years at career and technical schools. Last week, city school officials unveiled a $38 million overhaul to the district's career and technical education program that clusters schools to share programs and resources.

"The technical skills required to enter the workforce are higher than ever," said Derrick Lopez, assistant superintendent for secondary schools at Pittsburgh Public Schools. …

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