September is Workforce Development Month, a time to reflect on the contributions of our nation’s workforce and the role workforce development professionals and programs play in supporting workers and growing our economy.
For more than a century career and technical education (CTE) has been a hallmark of workforce development. And for the unforeseeable future, CTE will continue to be a critical component of how we train future workforces with the skills needed for in-demand jobs.
CTE Provides Hands-On Learning for Highly Technical Careers
One of the most unique and exciting things about CTE programs is the opportunity for hands-on, work-based learning. Instead of being limited to a traditional classroom setting or learning only from textbooks, CTE students have a chance to learn industry-relevant skills using the same tools and equipment they would encounter on the job. Practical experience and problem-solving abilities in a specific industry will be invaluable as the world of work advances technologically.
Several years ago, FANUC America, a NOCTI/Nocti Business Solutions (NBS) certification partner noticed a gap between industry-relevant skills and education. FANUC provides robotics and automation solutions in an industry where employees must be able to program and maintain complex machines in a fast-paced environment. After hearing from customers who had difficulty finding skilled workers to operate the robotic equipment, FANUC worked with NOCTI/NBS to develop stackable certifications for robot operators and technicians. Now, FANUC partners with over 1,500 high schools, tech training centers, community colleges, and universities to provide hands-on training for automation skills that align with industry and employer needs.
FANUC isn’t the only certification partner offering industry-relevant credentials to support industry and the future workforce. NOCTI/NBS is proud to work with America Makes, Advanced Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative AMTEC, American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), American Culinary Federation (ACF), Home Builders Institute (HBI), Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC), Stratasys, and others. You can find the full list of certification partners on the NOCTI Partner Network page or search for partner Blueprints in the index.
CTE Tailors Training for Specific Industries or Regions
CTE programs also facilitate workforce development specific to an industry or region. Business and community partnerships are one of the twelve components in the ACTE Quality CTE Program of Study Framework™. A high-quality CTE program should be closely aligned with the surrounding community and equip students with skills specific to local industries.
NOCTI/NBS has seen examples of this connection firsthand! Recently, NOCTI/NBS partnered with NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) to develop a certification for mountain biking trail building and maintenance. Over the last few years, Benton, Arkansas made a name for itself as the mountain biking capital of the world. The beautiful scenery and extensive network of trails attracted hobbyists and professional athletes who came to the state to live and train, and this put Bentonville in a unique situation. Not only were bicycle shops in need of skilled repair technicians to keep up with the increased demand, but the state also needed a way to ensure the trail network met international quality standards and would be sustainable for future generations of mountain bikers.
Together with input from industry professionals and subject matter experts, NOCTI/NBS and NWACC are developing a new certification for bicycle trail building and maintenance. The certification will help align industry and education to fill a direct need within Arkansas. Stay tuned for more details!
CTE Positively Impacts Career Development
Not only do CTE programs equip learners with industry-relevant skills, but they also connect students with opportunities for employment and continuing their education. Whether through internships, apprenticeships, engaging with mentors, or participating in programs to earn dual credit, CTE creates pathways to well-paying careers.
According to ACTE, individuals earning industry certifications are more likely to be employed one year after earning an industry certification than individuals without one. The U.S. Department of Education also found that students who focused on CTE courses while in high school had higher median annual earnings than students who did not focus on CTE.
NOCTI Supports CTE and Workforce Development
CTE programs and workforce development professionals will continue to play a vital role in equipping current and future generations with the industry-relevant skills needed for success in in-demand jobs. As a national leader in CTE credentialing solutions and resources, NOCTI has been a valuable partner to the CTE community’s efforts to improve America’s workforce for over 55 years. NOCTI looks forward to many more years of building competent workforces through creative learning solutions! Contact us to learn more about NOCTI’s services or explore the resource section of our website.