Career and Technical Education (CTE) prepares adults for a wide range of high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers in the real-world. While, some of you may not know what CTE is, if you are a recent college graduate working a job that does not require a degree you need to understand CTE. This is especially true if you are searching for a long term career opportunity. Career Technical Education formerly known as vocational education is defined as an educational program offered primarily at community colleges that specialize in the skilled trades, modern technologies, applied sciences and career preparation.

CTE programs offer career-oriented courses, and provide students with the opportunity to gain work experience through job shadowing, on-the-job training, and industry-certification opportunities. According to the Glossary of Education Reform, CTE programs provide a wide range of learning experiences reaching a diverse section of career fields, and industries, such as automotive technology, fashion design, culinary arts, robotics, construction, plumbing, or electrical contracting to fields as diverse as agriculture, architecture, filmmaking, forestry, engineering, healthcare, personal training or veterinary medicine.


Career Technical Education

Opportunity is waiting for you while you wait for opportunity

In a recent report from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity their research concluded that many of the jobs college graduates take do not require a degree. While, the American Dream is focused on postsecondary education that focus must also include a connection to the economy. That connection is found in CTE. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 65 percent of jobs in today’s work force are classified as “skilled and technical.” Jobs in this category require training beyond high school but do not necessarily require a four-year degree. Working in community colleges, I understand this reality first-hand. One of our missions is to train students for the work force with an education that gives them headroom to grow. In the last decade CTE programs have become increasingly important in providing access to careers for students. This is good for the individual and for our economy. Our larger objective is to “put America to work.”

Jobs that require education and training beyond high school but less than a bachelor’s degree are a strategic part of the economy and are central to the work of community colleges. CTE is the backbone of Economic Workforce Development as it addresses the needs of high-growth industries. CTE helps close the skills gap. The skilled trades like those in transportation, utilities sector, manufacturing, public service and health care occupations are all examples of CTE jobs. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and includes occupations such as science technicians, environmental engineering, dental technology and dental hygienists. These are great examples of CTE and are occupations that are experiencing fast growth. These CTE careers require an associate degree.

Career Pathways

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 48 percent of employed college graduates of the class of 2010 are in jobs that require less than a four-year college education. While eleven percent of college graduates are in jobs requiring more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s.

What does all of this mean?

It means a few things: First, if you are a recent underemployed college graduate with college debt and are seeking a career - a shift into to CTE might be your best next step. Second, CTE is a U.S. pathway to global competitiveness offering students opportunity in high demand employment. According to the Association for Career and Technical Education of the 55 million job openings created by 2020, 30 percent will require some college or a two-year associate degree. Third, in order for America to remain competitive in the global economy we need to ensure that we are training for the workforce.


Your investment in your education will earn you your best interest. Career and Technical programs offer lifetime opportunity and economic stability. Community colleges have many career and technical programs and are America’s best bargain in higher education.

My recommendation to you is that, first you identify your goal and then concentrate on reaching it. A career requires a journey. A CTE program offers you the pathway to success. Contact your nearest community college and you will find a welcoming counselor to help you.


Dr. Jamillah Moore is Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District ……


Janelle Jones and John Schmitt, A College Degree is No Guarantee, Center for Economic Policy Research, Washington, D.C., 2014

The Glossary of Education Reform by Great Schools Partnership at:


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