CTE and You

This is my second article in a series of counseling insights that are designed to connect students with career and technical programs. It follows my June 2014 article. I continue to urge those in education and especially those who are administrators, faculty, or staff in community colleges to reinforce the increasing possibilities in Career and Technical Education Programs. My specific purpose with this article is to reach “you.” You are the administrators and faculty members who reach the students who can benefit, and the “you” I am reaching for are also the students, i.e., the young people thinking about what opportunity you might have in the future that will give you a successful life, including a rewarding and satisfying career. Please share this article as you think it will be helpful. Let’s connect together in a community of interest that helps all of us make progress together.

My Definition

Career and Technical Education (CTE) prepares you for a wide range of relatively high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers in the real world. While some may not be clear about what CTE is, if you are a recent college graduate working in a job that does not require a degree, you need to understand CTE. This is especially true if you are searching for a lucrative, satisfying long term career opportunity. Career Technical Education, formerly known as vocational education, includes educational programs widely 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 you 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 practical learning experiences reaching a diverse selection of career fields and industries. Examples include 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, veterinary medicine and more. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles includes hundreds of career fields, many of which only came into wide use during the past decade.

Opportunity Waits 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 post-secondary 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 workforce 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 back to work.” Talk with your counselor or email your questions to me.

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. Many CTE programs address 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) 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.

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 11 percent of college graduates are in jobs requiring more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s. For example, there are two-year degrees which, are in high demand that can be a proven pathway to a career. Associates in Paralegal Studies can get you into the legal field in as little as two years. In this field students learn how to write legal briefs, terminology, contracts, mortgages, etc. Associate’s in Dental Hygiene is a field designed to help people care for their teeth. This field is always in demand as oral health is linked to physical health and we all need teeth. Third, with the on-going need for quality health care an Associates’ in Nursing is another high demand profession we have many more patients and folks in need of health care then we do nurses so, this is a field that remains in demand.

What Does All of This Mean to You?

It means a few things: First, if you are a recent underemployed college graduate with college debt who is seeking a career, a shift into 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.

Your community college certificate or degree is an affordable major milestone to being occupationally and personally successful in life.

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. Counseling is important so take the next step. You can also ask me questions at jmoore9096@gmail.com


Dr. Jamillah Moore is Chancellor of the Ventura County (CA) Community College District.


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

Kasper, H. T., Occupational Outlook Quarterly/ Winter (2002-2003). The changing role of community college.

The Glossary of Education Reform by Great Schools Partnership at: http://edglossary.org.

You can send comments on this article to jmoore9096@gmail.com

About the Author

Dr. Jamillah Moore

Jamillah Moore, Ed.D., is vice chancellor for Educational Services and Planning at the San Mateo County Community College District.  Dr. Moore is the author of Race and College Admissions: A Case for Affirmative Action.

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