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With the school year underway, not every high school student is wondering which college to attend. Some learn in high school how to become plumbers, welders, carpenters, electricians, mechanics or HVAC technicians. They will leave ready to enter a job market that needs their skills.

These career paths are just a few of what used to be called professional-technical trades. Schools now call them CTEs, or Career and Technical Education Programs. These are essential career paths for many students who choose to enter the workforce as soon as they can after high school.

It has become clear over the past few decades that our communities and our nation need more skilled workers. Ask any employer, small business owner or homeowner and they’ll tell you.

And today, they pay a family wage.

The US Department of Education defines CTE as follows: it is a “path” which provides students with the academic, technical, and real-world knowledge, skills, and experience they need to prepare for a variety of careers. CTE provides students with training and skills in many types of careers in high-growth sectors such as science and technology, healthcare, and business management. The programs – as area schools will attest – are personalized and practical.

It is a good thing that schools in our area will soon be doing outreach to middle school students in the area to show what CTE programs have to offer. Children need to be shown how learning such skills can lead to a rewarding life.

As parents discuss possible career paths with their children, don’t leave CTE options out of the mix.

They are the right choice for many students.

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