The Importance of Middle and High School CTE Programs

May 30, 2024
CTE Programs

Career and technical education (CTE) programs in middle and high school are rising in popularity, and it’s no wonder why. Not only can CTE courses help students explore, select, and define a career or field of interest, but also they can support students in learning and developing durable skills (also known as soft skills), which are highly prized by the job market, and ultimately help students find success in their careers and communities.

CTE courses can prepare students for a variety of careers—many that require no postsecondary education—which is vital in an economy where so many jobs only require a high school education (and maybe a certification). CTE programs also help students focus on real-world durable skills that employers look for in a candidate when hiring. Leadership, collaboration, and critical thinking are necessary skills taught in CTE courses and programs in addition to career- and pathway-specific skills.

Career and Technical Education in Middle School

In middle school, CTE courses provide opportunities for exploration and skill development. Students can use introductory courses to explore a variety of careers and skills related to a specific pathway or across multiple pathways, helping them identify a career or field that interests them. 

Many middle school CTE courses also provide opportunities for students to start developing basic career skills like professional communication skills. These courses also help students develop durable skills, including leadership, collaboration, and an overall positive attitude. By starting these introductory courses in middle school, students can get a jump start on preparing for both college and careers while they're in high school.

Take a look at the middle school electives that Edmentum offers by visiting our curricula catalog

Career and Technical Education in High School

In high school, CTE courses allow for further career investigation and preparation, as well as durable skills development. Application and technical courses within a pathway allow students to deepen their knowledge of their chosen field, which will help them in determining a future career and gaining further skills needed. Application and technical courses can also provide more opportunities to develop the durable skills that employers seek—work ethic, teamwork, and critical thinking. CTE courses also prepare students for their certification preparation courses.

CTE courses are an easy and cost-effective way to expose your students to the many opportunities available within a variety of fields and industries. Check out Edmentum’s full CTE course catalog to browse all of your options (including fully virtual courses taught by our highly qualified online teachers available through EdOptions Academy.

Certification Preparation Courses

Finally, certification preparation courses are the culminating courses for students’ chosen career pathways. These courses are intended to prepare students for exams that lead to certification. Technical courses provide the deepest knowledge of a chosen career, such as a certified nurse assistant/aide. Certification courses provide specific, detailed career information that is vital to preparing for the certification exams required (or strongly recommended) for a career in students’ chosen fields. Employers seek these certifications, along with the durable skills students have developed in earlier courses.

Looking to expand your library of CTE courses at your middle or high school or learn more about our certification preparation courses? Count on Edmentum for the resources you need to get started. Edmentum offers both middle school exploration and focused high school CTE courses, spanning 42 multiyear career pathways across 12 nationally recognized career clusters.

Preparing students for the workforce of the future requires schools to equip them with the right skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Check out our previously recorded webinar, Durable Skills: Preparing Students for the Future of Work, where education leaders gathered to discuss how they are working to bring durable skills education to K–12 students. Additionally, download Edmentum's career education workbook to reimagine how your district prepares students for success beyond the classroom.

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