Career Technical Education raising student career outlooks


Students enrolled in Ishpeming High School’s Geometry in Construction program are shown holding up a large ceiling joist while posing for this picture. The program requires students to apply classroom lessons to on-the-job construction projects. Here they’re shown renovating on old house near the school.


By Joseph Zyble
Area business and trades professionals are volunteering and collaborating to greatly improve career opportunities for high school students who may not have the access to or interest in pursuing a traditional college degree to begin a career. This group, called the CTE Committee, has established partnerships with businesses, industries and Northern Michigan University to open doors for young people who may otherwise get left behind.
CTE stands for career and technical education. It promotes and offers specialized training in fields such as health care, construction, drafting and design, automotive, welding, culinary arts, hospitality services, business management, the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration industry, and more. Training options in manufacturing and cyber security will be added in fall 2019.
The CTE Committee was the brainchild of Stu Bradley, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and financial adviser in Marquette who was inspired after witnessing how a high school trades program made all the difference for his grandson. The young man struggled to find direction in high school and dropped out for a while, but later enrolled in a skilled trades program.
“My grandson was an unengaged high school student who did not find his place in the world until he enrolled in the high school culinary arts program at NMU,” Bradley said. “That hands-on training changed his life and he is now a full-time chef at a restaurant in White Plains, NY.
“That experience helped me to understand the importance of CTE programs, their power to show students how academics apply in the real world, and how important it is for every student to have a career plan coming out of high school.”
Unfortunately, the Marquette-Alger Educational Service Agency, which serves the two-county district, is the only one in the U.P. without a millage to support career and technical education. And five years ago, just prior to the formation of the CTE Committee, enrollments in career and technical education courses, a.k.a. skilled trades courses, were in a downward spiral across the entire state…

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