MD offers new career and technology education programs

The face of what used to be known as vocational-technical education in Maryland has changed significantly. What used to be “Vo-Tech” has evolved into today’s Career and Technology Education (CTE) that offers high school and post secondary students learning options toward 48 career paths, according to Lynne Gilli, a CTE program manager.

Currently, there are almost 120,000 high school CTE students in Maryland public schools – 44 percent of all public high school students in the state. Another 54,000 post-secondary students are also enrolled in CTE programs, Gilli told members of the GBC Education Committee on April 14.

Career paths are grouped into 10 clusters including:

  • Arts, Media and Communication
  • Business, Management and Finance
  • Consumer Services, Hospitality and Tourism
  • Construction and Development
  • Environmental, Agricultural and Natural Resource Systems
  • Health and Biosciences
  • Human Resource Services
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology
  • Transportation Technologies

Maryland receives about $18 million annually from the federal government through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technology Education Improvement Act of 2006 for the program. That represents about 6 percent of the programs’ budget, which means the programs receive most of their funding from local and state revenue.

“By connecting educators and employers, career clusters provide a framework to help ensure that Maryland has a high-quality workforce that attracts and retains businesses to the state,” said Gilli. Companies like Constellation Energy are treating it like a “long-term interview” or “work-based learning agreement.”

Within each career cluster are 4-9 more specific career pathways. “With science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) driving the 21st-century economy and the military’s Base Realignment and Closure plan bringing tens of thousands more STEM-dependent jobs to Maryland, newer programs like pre-engineering, biomedical sciences, manufacturing engineering technologies, and homeland security and emergency preparedness are attracting more and more students,” Gilli said.

Since Maryland has the nation’s fourth-largest cluster of biotechnology companies and ranks second in information technology jobs, preparing students for these areas is essential. Almost 3,000 students are enrolled in the pre-engineering program – a 79 percent jump from last year, she said. Given the success of the pre-engineering program, Maryland, along with six other states, launched the program in biomedical sciences, which is intended to yield more diverse students majoring in science, engineering and biotechnology.

CTE is a priority for Governor Martin O’Malley. He established the P-20 Leadership Council last year, where part of the work includes identifying and filling any gaps between the CTE and STEM program benchmarks and the state’s workforce needs, she said.

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