Carson High School Future Business Leaders of America members Sophia Nguyen, left, Hanna Kreizenbeck, adviser Cody Downing, Lindsey Kreizenbeck, McKenzie Merrell, and chapter president Todd Gosselin share information about their organization on Sept. 20.
Photo by Jessica Garcia.
State and local educators are exploring how to strengthen and simplify career and technical education pathways from the classroom to the workforce, community members heard last week.
The quarterly PLC, a means to gather input from district staff members and families on its strategic plan and long-term goals, also was a Regional Career Pathways Advisory Meeting cohosted with Western Nevada College. The evening offered a discussion about CTE opportunities available to K-12 students and in conjunction with WNC’s dual enrollment program to help them discover potential majors and living-wage jobs as they explore their interests.
Nevada Department of Education Programs director Craig Statucki spoke on the NDE’s current mission of reducing its CTE program from 35 goals to three to better align with school districts’ course offerings and relevant demands in the workforce.
“We did the not-so-popular thing of really refocusing our CTE programs to meet our economic needs of our workforce,” Statucki said. “Otherwise, we’re just spending money for getting students to prepare for a career that doesn’t exist in the state, and that’s not what we’re trying to do.”
NDE now seeks to create high-quality CTE programs of study to meet the demands of high-skill, high-wage, in-demand occupations; provide a systematic approach giving access for students to pursue career pathways in pre-K to college; and to ensure employers have a pipeline of skilled talent, Statucki said.
Candi Robles, CTE and work-based learning coordinator at Carson High School, said the school offers several programs to support efforts in building pathways. With 16 career clusters in the CTE curriculum, students can explore opportunities or interests as emergency medical technicians or careers in Web design and development or marketing in high school.
Carson High School’s own student organizations also had a chance to demonstrate how they’re pursuing their goals and building their skills by offering displays about the programs they’re invested in during the PLC meeting.
Future Business Leaders of America chapter President Todd Gosselin, a senior who also serves as the national organization’s vice president of public relations, is learning about the business aspects on a local and national level.
“I love learning about FBLA and how it’s focused on a broad diversity of topics and bringing a business aspect to that,” Gosselin said.
CHS teacher Kendra Tuttle said the school’s early childhood education program has about 160 enrolled and was “super proud” of seeing students’ interactions during the PLC meeting.
“I always love watching our high schoolers teach the grownups, no matter what pathway they’re on,” Tuttle said. “It’s also just really nice to see the community members invested in a quality workforce and recognize that we’re doing that here at Carson High School.”
WNC Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dana Ryan focused on Northern Nevada’s current labor market with data from the Northern Nevada Development Authority, pointing out similarities in regional growth for industries between six Nevada counties — Churchill, Douglas, Lyon, Mineral, Storey and Carson City — and Washoe despite Washoe’s size. Manufacturing, health care and social assistance and construction show similar expected growth and demand in both regions, and community colleges and schools likely will need to focus on producing graduates with skills in these career fields.
Ryan said the recent local education pipeline has produced approximately 10,092 graduates, a growth of 12% in the past five years, with most majoring in liberal arts and sciences with associate’s degrees, science technologies or technicians with associate’s degrees or as nursing assistant/aides and patient care assistant/aides as certificate earners in a workforce program. General and operations managers or industrial engineers or production managers typically require bachelor’s degrees, and there are few jobs currently in demand needing a graduate degree or higher, Ryan said.
In a look at top growing occupations by education, Ryan said, some are laborers and freight, working in stock, retail salespersons, fast food and counter workers, cooks and restaurant workers and construction laborers, all of which require no formal education, she said. But she said adding skilled workers would help the workforce in the long run.
“If we focused a little bit on moving those folks, where no formal education is required, over the national average, we could fill the job market here,” she said. “Interesting concept. I’m not sure how we do it. I don’t have the answers.”
Nigel Harrison, who has been teaching construction management at WNC for nine years and graduated from Carson High in 1999, said he’d never previously attended a PLC but was excited to see the district and WNC working to align its CTE courses for students. He said most students don’t think about what’s available to them through the types of career or technical classes they could be taking.
“A lot of people come out of high school and go through the motions,” Harrison said. “They go to college because that’s what people tell them to do, and they don’t think about three or four years down the road when they actually have to graduate and don’t think, ‘Oh, no, I need to provide for myself and possibly for my family.’ But I can bring this back and say this is a real tangible program you can get involved with and here are the benefits.”