February is Career and Technical Education Month â€” a time when school districts across the country celebrate programs designed to prepare students for the workforce or to further their education.
Once an education path for those students seeking vocational skills, career and technical education is now a pathway for students looking to build career skills, get a start on their college education or just learn life skillsl that will allow them pay for college.
At Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School (CTE), more than 70 percent of high school students go on to pursue higher education, while many others directly enter the workforce with a technical skill set.
For welding senior Alan Gaubreau, CTE served as the perfect stepping stone for college and later entrepreneurship.
"Next year I am going to college for business. I want to get a degree so I can open my own shop. Going to BOCES has given me a huge advantage because I have learned various skills I need for welding and to be successful,â€� said the senior from Schenectady City School District.
Capital Region BOCES CTE offers 40 programs across nine nationally designated career clusters â€” transportation, distribution and logistics; retail and office services; manufacturing; information technology; hospitality; health science; government and public administration; architecture and construction and agriculture and natural resources.
Those programs prepare students for specific careers, but also give students skills, such as communications, interviewing and time management, that span the spectrum of careers.
"There's a demand among business leaders across the region and state emphasize college- and career-readiness,â€� Dr. Valerie Kelsey, deputy director of career and technical education at BOCES. "The programs we offer include everything from culinary arts and welding to floral, electrical trades, auto body repair, and internet application design. But they also prepare students with life skills that apply to whatever career a student pursues.â€�
"It's about preparing students for life,â€� she added.
More than 1,000 students from throughout the Capital Region take courses at the Capital Region BOCES campuses in Schoharie, Albany and at the Mohonasenasen Center for Advanced Technology, as well as New Visions classrooms.
Nationally, more than 15 million high school and postsecondary students are pursuing career and technical education, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
By choosing an education that includes career and technical training, those students are getting an education that is critical to their personal success, as well as the success of this region and the country.
"Hands-on delivery of education where you as students experience first-hand the demands of workforce is crucial to success,â€� U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko told area CTE students earlier this school year.
In the top photo Alan Gaubreau welds. In the second photo, diesel technology student Andrew Masi works on an engine. To the right, Jaida Truesdell of Schoharie cuts wood in the commercial construction/heavy equipment program.