Woodworking, welding, and home economics used to be part of the curriculum in all traditional schools. Introducing students to skilled trade careers used to be just as important as test scores, graduation rates and college prep. The reality is that schools have diverted funds away from job training classes over the past decade and are only now starting to realize that’s a mistake.



While graduation rates are up, 55 percent of those passing high school don’t have the grades to qualify for the state’s public universities. Of those who do enroll in college nationwide, 30 percent drop out in the first year. So, how do these hundreds of thousands of young people who are entering adulthood with no skills earn a decent living?

Fortunately Career Technical Education (CTE) is making its way back into the schools. Learn4Life has incorporated CTE in its curriculum for the past decade, and it has proven essential for many students who are at-risk or socioeconomically disadvantaged.

While earning their diplomas, Learn4Life students complete a 10-week professional skills course that includes exploring career goals, basic computing, resume preparation and interview etiquette. Then they move on to a specific career pathway – with options like computer programming, food service, healthcare, construction, media arts and cyber-security. They get hands-on skills training and earn industry-recognized certifications so they can secure internships, apprenticeships or jobs.

“Students on a CTE pathway are more engaged in school overall and perform better in all their classes,” said Craig Beswick, CTE administrator. “Interestingly, taking CTE classes in high school doesn’t change the minds of students who had planned to go to college. They benefit from seeing projects from start to finish and gain a sense of accomplishment. Plus, they have a new respect for people who work in trade industries.”

For graduates with no plans for college, a CTE pathway can be life-changing. They can begin working right out of high school with a career direction – and a real chance at building their own American Dream.

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About Learn4Life | Learn4Life is a network of nonprofit public schools that provides students personalized learning, career training and life skills. Each school is locally controlled, tuition free and gives students the flexibility and one-on-one attention they need to succeed. Serving more than 40,000 students across California, we help students prepare for a future beyond high school. For more information, please visit http://www.learn4life.org/.

Written By:
Ann Abajian