February 23, 2024

Celebrating Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month: Equipping Students for Success

This month, we are highlighting Career and Technical Education (CTE), an educational pathway that emphasizes a practical, hands-on approach to learning and focuses on real-world skills and industry-specific expertise. CTE programs are at the forefront of education today, preparing individuals for a wide range of high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers. These careers span various fields, including healthcare, information technology, engineering, finance, hospitality, business management, automotive technology, culinary arts and construction.

The Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) has projected a deficit of 6.5 million skilled workers in the United States by 2030. Key industries and occupations, such as healthcare, manufacturing and information technology are currently facing talent shortages. CTE offers a promising alternative to the traditional four-year college degree, as 77% of employers in in-demand industries have reported hiring employees based on the knowledge and skills gained from their CTE experience.

At Cengage Group, we take pride in being a market leader in CTE. We offer over 200 CTE titles and a wide range of resources across K-12 and Higher Ed, including textbooks, simulations and labs that are aligned to industry standards, to equip students for both their careers and their lives. CTE strongly aligns with the Cengage Group mission to help all learners gain the skills and competencies needed to achieve their goals.

The Rise of CTE:

CTE has experienced a significant surge in popularity as more learners recognize its potential. The Department of Education reports that from 2020 to 2021, there were approximately 12 million CTE participants, with 8.3 million at the secondary level and 3.5 million at the postsecondary level.

Furthermore, recent research conducted by the Cengage Academic team - who provides education content and technology to support the learning goals of more than 12M digital learners, from middle school to graduate school - highlights the increasing K-12 enrollment trends in specific CTE areas in the United States. Areas including Business, Computing/Information Technology, and Health Sciences/Allied Health have seen growth rates as high as 59% in certain districts. There are several reasons behind this growth in enrollment:

  • First, CTE programs provide students with valuable career exploration opportunities, allowing them to gain insights into various industries and professions.
  • Second, CTE equips students with relevant skills and training that are directly applicable to the workforce, giving them a competitive edge.
  • Third, CTE offers education and preparation for students before they enter college or university, ensuring they are well-prepared for further academic pursuits.
  • Lastly, there is a growing demand for CTE from both students and the industry, as employers recognize the value of CTE graduates and the specific skills they bring to the table.


Adoption of CTE Programs:

As part of Cengage Academic’s 2022-2023 research, interviews and surveys were conducted with CTE administrators and teachers to understand adoption dynamics. One concern with CTE programs is ensuring that they align with the needs of a rapidly evolving workforce. A CTE Business Department Chair and Teacher from Kentucky expressed, “I want the latest innovative opportunity for my students. And if those textbooks or those products are changing with the industry, I want ours to change with the industry as well. So that we are preparing kids for what they need to do and know once they leave our high school.”

The National Geographic Learning CTE curriculum incorporates virtual simulations, offering students practical, real-world experiences. These simulations are in-line with industry standards and enable students to tackle various scenarios, such as solving a medical lab problem or repairing an HVAC system, preparing them for success in their future careers.


Benefits for Students and Employers:

CTE offers numerous advantages for both students and employers. For students, it provides a direct entry point into the workforce, allowing them to gain valuable skills and experience while pursuing their education. This hands-on approach fosters a deeper understanding of industry expectations and enhances future employability. Marty Lange, SVP and General Manager of Secondary Education, emphasized the value of Work Based Learning (WBL) programs, in a recent blog post where he shared that, “these experiences (WBL programs) can enhance a student’s future employability by providing them with essential work experience they may not have otherwise had. Students who participate in WBL programs can often build professional networks that could be invaluable in their future career choices.”

Employers also benefit from CTE programs as they gain access to a pool of skilled and job-ready candidates. CTE graduates garner practical knowledge and industry-specific skills that align with the needs of today's workforce. This mutually beneficial relationship between students and employers strengthens the economy and contributes to a thriving job market.


Celebrating CTE Month:

To celebrate CTE Month, our National Geographic Learning team curated an exciting lineup of activities for both employees and customers. An engaging webinar, INFORM. INSPIRE. EDUCATE. Reimagining CTE for the 21st Century Workforce, featured guest speakers, Dr. Sharon Baksh, Curriculum Specialist at Chicago Public Schools, Dr. Tim Krieg, Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction at School City of Hobart, and Rachna Nath, CEO and Founder of DRIPBL STEAM Analytics, who discussed the future of CTE and shared real-life success stories that embody the fusion of education, innovation, and inspiration. The webinar was a success with over 500 individuals registered and more than 100 live attendants. Additionally, a weekly blog series was curated to showcase inspiring career stories from our employees, serving as a source of motivation and inspiration for students and teachers alike. These initiatives aim to inspire change, breakdown stereotypes and champion diversity in CTE.

As we celebrate CTE Month, it is essential to recognize the significance of CTE in preparing students for successful careers and fulfilling lives. At Cengage Group, we embrace the transformative power of CTE and hope to inspire a new generation of skilled professionals.


Learn more:

To uncover the five benefits of CTE, read last year’s CTE Month blog with insights from Jamie D., VP of Marketing, and Jason F., Portfolio Product Director.

If you’re interested in learning more about our Cengage Academic teams who support CTE programming at Cengage Group and our portfolio of businesses, view our What We Do page.

Read National Geographic Learning’s CTE blog to explore CTE career success stories.