Career and Technical Education: The Backbone of a Strong, Well-Educated Workforce

Feb, 2 2021

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Career and technical education (CTE) is specialized training in various trades to equip students with core academic, employability, technical, and job-specific skills. CTE prepares students to fill industry demands, reduce talent shortages, and contribute to the state's economy. The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) training and certifications account for 95 percent of Arizona's most in-demand jobs. In Spring 2020, MCCCD launched 16,638 graduates into roles that directly impact the local workforce and have added more than $7.2 billion in income to the Maricopa County economy.

Although CTE is often stigmatized, it has become recognized as the solution to strengthening the economy and workforce in a post-pandemic world. Continuous technology advances have altered labor market demands, causing a need for highly skilled workers. According to the Department of Labor, there are roughly 6.5 million unfilled jobs across the United States. Current industry trends show construction, health care, information technology, and manufacturing have more than 160,000 employment opportunities in Arizona alone. Innovative collaborations with local businesses make next-generation training possible. In 2020, MCCCD partnered with Microsoft and Intel to build the Microsoft Datacenter Academy's and launch the first Intel-designed artificial intelligence associate degree program in the U.S. 

CTE goes beyond creating a qualified 21st-century workforce. It removes barriers to equitable economic growth for students. The low cost and short-term completion time encourages postsecondary achievement and increases educational equity. Regardless of a student's race, gender, socio-economic status, and other systematic barriers, CTE provides the tools needed to succeed in life and throughout their careers. Just last Fall, MCCCD empowered 86,000 first-generation students to begin their educational journey.

CTE affords students hands-on experience and pathways to high-paying jobs, opportunities for mentorship, and work experience. Students can secure vital jobs with median wages of $55,000 annually and potentially more. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows careers such as dental hygienist, radiation therapist, or web developers rank in earnings between $75,000 to $85,000. CTE also empowers students to develop problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, time-management, and soft skills employers need.

At Maricopa, we believe in making education accessible to all, while fostering inclusion and diversity to meet Arizona's attainment goals. Learn more about CTE through "Let's Talk CTE" Sessions offered by our Workforce and Economic Development Office.


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