GUEST BLOG: No Matter the Pathway, A Career is the Goal — Dr. Joyce Malainy, Career and Technology Education Centers
By: Guest Blogger
It is hard to believe that January 2019 is already at a close. As we all know, it seems the more “experienced” we become, the faster time moves. Now February is upon us. February is a big deal at the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County because February is Career and Technical Education Month. Career and Technical Education Month is a national public awareness initiative created to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments and recognize the value of career-technical education programs across the nation.
Here in Licking County, the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County (formerly Licking County Joint Vocational School) have more than 40 years of experience working to meet the needs of students, schools, and business and industry partners to create, educate and maintain a workforce that can meet the needs of the day. From the beginning, we have understood that one of the greatest values in career-technical education is working with business and industry leaders to ensure we understand their workforce needs, and they understand the role career-technical education plays in readying their future workforce.
The way we accomplish this understanding has evolved over the decades. One of the more recent innovations is through the expansion of middle school career-technical education programming. Through our middle school career exploration programs, we are beginning to help students at a younger age think about potential careers and understand the necessary educational pathways that lead to the careers of their choice. Currently, we have seven such programs in middle schools throughout Licking County, with more on the way. Additionally, we have provided professional development resources for the career exploration programs to all our Licking County middle school staff members. This makes Licking County a true leader in this initiative. Adding middle school career studies is one more way we provide career opportunities to Licking County beyond those already available in our high school and adult centers. This latest step is just another move in that evolving journey.
However, with all that career-tech centers and other institutions are doing to fill the skills gap and prepare tomorrow’s workforce, there always are opportunities for continued growth. The good news…there are solutions to these issues. We can do better at preparing our students for what is ahead just by making them and their families aware of all options and pathways. Those available to students still in secondary school and those who have entered the “adult” world who need more training and skills. We just need to open ourselves to an honest discussion, let go of the traditions and education strategies we consider off limits and above reproach and focus on the students and helping them find their true pursuits.
At the end of the day, our diplomas, Advanced Placement credits or acceptance letters to four-year colleges cannot define success. We must define success for today's students by focusing on careers. That is where every pathway leads, anyhow.
Dr. Joyce Malainy is the superintendent of the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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