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Interest in careers and technical education grows as central Texas becomes an industrial hub

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Interest in career and technical education (CTE) is growing in the Round Rock, Flugerville, and Hutt school districts as Central Texas becomes a hotbed of the tech sector.

By 2028, nearly 50% of the number of jobs available in regional counties, including Travis and Williamson, will be in industries such as construction, information, business and professional services, according to Texas Labor Commission labor market data. shown to increase.

As these sectors grow, not all positions require a four-year degree. His CTE directors at Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto ISD all say interest in this kind of education is growing as industry leaders like Tesla, Samsung and Apple invest in local operations. increase.

RRISD CTE Director Sheri Bonds said: “Parents are hearing about it in the media and hearing about job vacancies, so more students are enrolling in her computer science courses.

The CTE is offered to Texas high school students who want to start a business or have an interest in a particular field before graduation.

CTE’s RRISD Assistant Director Peggy Mica said: “They have a better idea of ​​their next steps when they leave us.”

CTE pathway

Formerly known as vocational education, CTE courses are intended to provide students with training and education for careers, whether or not a four-year degree is required. Programs at Round Rock, Pflugerville, and Hutto ISD give you a head start on your apprenticeship, vocational school, four-year college, or direct entry into the workforce.

Educators say the CTE program provides easy and affordable access to trade programs and certifications, allowing them to gain additional experience before attending higher education institutions or working in the field after graduation. .

Traci Hendrix, PfISD’s CTE Director, said the local program is based on the demand of the labor market and emerging industries.

“We are focused on partnering with business partners and post-secondary partners in the space to do a lot of research on current opportunities,” Hendricks said. “We then look at what the opportunities will be in the next few years and build programs that allow students to start exploring. [those] in middle school. “

Jodi Jacobson, a parent of three RRISD students, said the CTE program was a deciding factor in choosing a school district. She said she recently got a new job in San Marcos, so she’s keeping her kids at Round Rock.

“I commute to work every day,” said Jacobson. “Not only because of the comfort my children have built at Round Rock, but because of their vastly diverse interests, Round Rock ISD has exactly the programs they want to attend and the programs they need. because I know there is

CTE programming falls into career clusters. For example, in PfISD Agriculture includes several courses of study such as Animal Science, Applied Agricultural Engineering, and Plant Science. The Texas Department of Education has identified 14 career clusters that could further disrupt school districts.

HISD students can choose from a series of CTE-based courses that they can take throughout high school, but are somewhat looser in structure than similar courses in RRISD and PfISD.

PfISD students likewise choose one or more programs of study to guide their course choices as high school students. Hendricks said students can change their study program at any time.

At RRISD, students choose an academy to guide their educational pursuits beginning in high school. Some academies target her CTE education, others focus on the performing arts. These academies align with his CTE Pathway, which sets students on a course of study as high school students, with several programs partnering with local businesses to offer certification and internship opportunities. As his CTE program in the region evolves to meet the changing industry demands, regional data show that enrollment numbers are also growing.

From the 2019-20 school year to the 2020-21 school year, RRISD and HISD saw a significant increase in CTE students, with HISD enrollment increasing over 54% year-over-year during that period.

Jacobson said RRISD’s CTE program has a variety of services to help her children explore their interests before choosing a career and move forward before entering the workforce.

“These kids can walk around with this on their resumes showing that they not only took this class, but they are qualified,” Jacobson said. I think they will have a big impact on your career, whether you go to college or go to college.”

After graduation

After graduation, students who have taken advantage of the CTE offer in high school may choose to attend a four-year college or university, attend a vocational school, immediately join an apprenticeship, or otherwise find direct employment. You can choose.

One local option, Texas State Technical College, offers multiple opportunities for students to master the skills developed in high school CTE courses. His TSTC’s Williamson County campus in Hutto offers local options for students looking to launch a career in the profession. Associate Dean Nelson Adams said he has over a 90% placement rate for TSTC students. That means more than 90% of her students who complete the TSTC program are able to find a job in their chosen field.

Adams also says that students who work before high school acquire a set of transferable skills that give them an added edge after graduation, whether in a career aspiring field or in retail. said.

“They have learned a valuable set of skills in the experience,” says Adams. “Students who are actually working can actually get to work sooner and pick up those skills faster.”