In this constantly changing economy, it is understandable to see a shift in career paths that develops as the economy does. In this day and age, it is becoming increasingly important for rising generations to find careers that require traditional four-year degrees. However, this shift may be contributing to a growing issue for companies around the U.S.; There is a decreasing interest in the trade occupations throughout the country.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a term applied to schools, institutions, and educational programs that specialize in the skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and career preparation. This general term encompasses thousands of different occupational training programs in agriculture, trade, or industry. A few of these programs include: welding, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, construction, etc.
These programs differ from traditional and university-based education, which is primarily based on theoretical learning. CTE includes some theory, that is typically only seen in introductory materials, but CTE is focused on skills.. Practice, hands-on experience, and application tests make up the bulk of CTE curriculum. This is of great importance because CTE careers require workers to have experience in their field before starting a career. Sadly, however, we have seen a large decrease in both the number of students enrolling in CTE programs and the number of qualified CTE workers. This produces a huge problem for business-owners throughout the entire nation.
One specific example here in our own state comes from Premier Technology, Inc. Premier Tech, a custom manufacturing company that specializes in “large one-off projects” for a wide range of industry and government agencies including commercial nuclear power, nuclear medicine, mining, food processing and U.S. Department of Energy waste removal, has been suffering from this lack of a qualified workforce.
Due to the companies exponential growth in the last decade, and their high demand to create large-scale projects, they have struggled to provide employees with the skills necessary to fill the increasing number of orders in the future, primarily in skilled welders. Doug Sayer, co-founder of Premier Technology, has seen the demand for more CTE employees and stated,”
“Premier could hire every single welding graduate from every secondary education institution in Idaho and we would still not have enough employees to meet our projected growth rate in the next four years. And we are just one company in Blackfoot; Idaho needs to have a much clearer picture of the industries and their demand for skilled workers. We (Idaho) will never be able to meet the demand without scaling up rapidly the infrastructure required to increase exponentially our CTE.”
Companies like Premiere Technologies, have reported anywhere up to around $500,000 into training and certifying their employees to meet the requirements to perform their jobs. Doug Sayer, along with plenty of other businesses around the country are advocating for younger people to enroll in CTE programs to better equip themselves work qualifications for trade work.