Career and Technical Education (CTE) can guide high school students to a great career


Like most of us, I grew up believing that the only way to be successful after high school was to attend a four year college after graduation. Many of us had that same belief drilled into us by well-meaning parents who wanted their children to have their best chance in life. And yet current information tells us that while 68 percent of jobs in Iowa will require education and training beyond high school, most won’t require a four-year degree to provide access to a quality wage. Future Ready Iowa has data complied that shows that Iowa will add 250,000 new jobs by 2025. The largest number of new job opportunities will be technical careers in areas such as healthcare and social assistance, finance and insurance, waste management and remediation, and manufacturing.

Iowa’s high schools, community colleges, universities, Area Education Agencies, and the Future Ready Iowa Alliance are working collaboratively to help educate students about the variety of career options available right here in Iowa. Through Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in Iowa’s high schools, students have the opportunity to explore these career opportunities and gain skills that will help them succeed.

As a parent or guardian looking back at middle school and high school there is a good chance you took elective CTE classes. These classes came from four main program areas; family consumer science, industrial technology, agriculture, and business. Secondary schools still provide classes that are part of these traditional program areas but with recent advances, new classes that better align with career preparation and support the current and future workforce needs have been created. Iowa high schools must now offer and teach CTE programs in four of the following six service areas: Business, finance, marketing, and management; human services; agriculture, food and natural resources; applied sciences, technology, engineering, and manufacturing; Health sciences; and information systems.

Reach out to your local high school to learn more about the CTE offerings that today’s students have access to. In many cases, students can graduate with up to a year of college completed through participation in the program. Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEA) are proud to help with the coordination and support of this important effort. As part of this work, Central Rivers AEA will host business and community leaders on November 13 in Cedar Falls as part of the Future Ready Iowa initiative. The purpose of this full day event will be to learn how greater collaboration among community, education and business can increase Iowa’s talent pipeline. For more information, contact Sam Miller, Central Rivers AEA Chief Administrator.

Rod Ball is Director of Special Programs with Central Rivers Area Education Agency (AEA) based in Cedar Falls. He can be reached at rball@centralriversaea.org. Central Rivers AEA supports educators, parents, and the communities we serve as we work together toward one ultimate goal: to improve student learning. We provide support in the areas of quality classroom