CTE roundtable discusses future workforce needs

Culinary arts teacher Chase Johnson is shown in the class kitchen.

Culinary arts teacher Chase Johnson is shown in the class kitchen.

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The American workforce will need more workers by 2025 if different reports from the U.S. government and manufacturers prove to be accurate.

Summer Stephens, superintendent of the Churchill County School District, conducted a roundtable at the beginning of December on Career and Technical Education courses offered at the high school and the importance of these classes on today’s students.

“We will need 1 million workers within three years not only in Fallon and Nevada but the entire country,” Stephens told a small group of students, educators and community professionals who attended the 90-minute roundtable.

Stephens said it’s important to think about the future and how postsecondary education can meet those openings, something Stephens said she feels the school district has done a good job with its offerings of CTE classes. She said the commencement exercises in early June are not the ending but the beginning for graduates.

After students begin the next chapter in their lives, Stephens said there are ways for students to become competent in vying for future careers.

“You don’t necessarily have to go to college,” she added.

Currently, Stephens said up to 70% of CCHS students go through pathways to prepare them for work readiness. She said the school district’s 70% is the second highest in the state with health courses emerging as the program with the highest demand.

The school district has developed strategic themes to include ensuring that all learners are life ready, developing the whole person and strengthening communication and partnerships with the community.

The school board has developed a goal on CTE end-of-course and workplace readiness: “The percentage of students who pass the end-of-the-year-program completers in all CTE areas at Churchill County High School will increase from 59.04% at the end of 2020-21 to 70% at the end of 2023-24.”

In building Fallon Forward-Churchill County Work-Based Learning, both the school district and the Churchill Entrepreneurial Development Association have further detailed the school’s role, CEDA’s role and the business/company/organization’s role. The school will connect with CEDA and have businesses place students in the best fit opportunities. CEDA’s role encompasses four areas: connect business to the NV Career Explore Hub, serve as a liaison between the schools and companies; support companies in the areas of liability insurance issues and funding opportunities for paid internships and apprenticeships; present orientations and learning opportunities for businesses.

One of Stephens’ goals is for the school district to employ a workforce coordinator and create a work center. Eventually, a goal would be to train local students with workplace skills.

“We want the kids to go out and practice everything they’re learning in school,” she pointed out.

Stephens said the high school offers many courses within its CTE program, but she laments the school doesn’t have any business programs due to staffing.

The roundtable part of the workshop included about seven stations for participants to answer key questions about current offerings, future opportunities and funding. Afterward, the participants visited the high school facilities that offer welding, culinary arts, agriculture, health services and auto mechanics.


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