Throughout the years, vocational education, or voc ed, has had a reputation for being a last-ditch effort for educational misfits. Traditionally, the purpose of voc ed was to teach students a specific trade to help them transition from high school into the workforce. In recent years, however, the concept of vocational education has been re-thought.

The new term, Career and Technical Education (CTE), has come to mean more than just job training for non-academic students. According to the Association for Career and Technical Education, CTE programs equip students  to be “career-ready” by teaching them “core academic skills, employability skills and job-specific, technical skills.”

CTE is gaining popularity as more schools learn about its benefits. An Arizona high school has recently seen a rise of interest in CTE, even among its college-prep students. Students are attracted to the opportunity to master a skill they love, and teachers enjoy the students’ new found enthusiasm for subjects like math, science and reading, now that they are applicable to real life situations.

Even in the poor economy, CTE-related jobs are in high demand, as they meet society’s unique need for skilled tradesmen. In Florida, recent graduates who earned a career-focused associate degree or post-secondary certificate from a community college are earning up to $11,000 more than those who received a bachelor’s degree from the state’s 11 public universities.

Misfits? Or misunderstood?

Does your high school offer classes in Career and Technical Education? If so, do you notice a difference in the students who participate in CTE? If not, do you think your students would be receptive to a CTE program?