Why you should stress COVID-era skills in CTE programs

Students will require more than just technical skills in the future world of work
By: | September 9, 2020

To eventually start their own companies, students need to learn about every facet of the work environment.

Educators can facilitate this with makerspaces, project- and placed-based learning programs, and a strong focus on STEAM. They can also ensure students have opportunities to shadow professionals, says Rachelle Dene Poth, a DA columnist and technology teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, Pa.

“They need a chance to explore the things that are happening in the real world and be able to navigate their way through it.”

Students will require more than just technical skills in the future world of work, adds Richard M. Long, executive director of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of public-school advocacy organizations. “Welders, for example, have to be able to read very complex charts and texts, and also to write instructions.”

More from DA: How schools can improve CTE during COVID-19

Should remote learning continue beyond COVID, teachers will need to develop students’ self-reliance by teaching them how to make personal and professional connections, how to find credible information and other DIY-type skills.

In Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools, teams of computer science campers followed the Everyone Can Code curriculum to prototype an app to meet the needs of a local company or nonprofit.

The curriculum challenges students to solve puzzles to learn programming concepts. Students then got to pitch their ideas to instructors and local professionals, and then participate in a showcase at the end of camp, says Scott W. Murphy, director of the Department of Secondary Curriculum and Districtwide Programs.

Throughout this process, they not only learned programming but also practiced problem-solving, teamwork and project management—skills that can be applied to any career path, Murphy says.

Read the other stories in our series on the future of work:

  1. How to ensure equity begins early when building career skills
  2. How to develop students who are creators, not consumers
  3. How CTE develops on-the-job learners
  4. Why not create your own coding curriculum?
  5. 5 changes that will prepare students for the future of work