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Career and Technical Education: Inspiring All Students to Reach Their Potential

We’ve all heard it. Tons of jobs and not enough employees to fill them.

Even before the pandemic hit, demand for skilled trades, craft workers, and artisans was expected to top one million by 2023. More recent numbers from the Home Builders Institute say demand is more likely to be 2.2 million between 2022 and 2024 - what it calls a “crisis level” - and that’s just in construction.

Lyndsay Huntsman has been gearing up for this for years. Huntsman, the PCSD Director of Career & Technical Education (CTE)  and Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies (PCCAPS) at Park City High School, has been growing CTE and PCCAPS into powerhouse programs and laying the groundwork for this big statement:

“Career and Technical Education (CTE) is for every single student,” Huntsman said.

College-bound. Career-bound. A mix of both. CTE programming is geared toward each and every combination - and closely aligns with Park City Education Foundation’s mission: to fund initiatives that inspire all Park City students to successfully reach their academic and lifelong potential. One of the ways PCEF measures this is by funding CTE programs so they are accessible to all students.

PCEF supports CTE projects that impact more than 1,000 students at Treasure Mountain and PCHS. One of those is a brand-new full immersion Construction Management course at TMJH, which teaches construction technology. Students are physically building a kitchen and bathroom from the ground up to learn home building! 

"This class... gave me the opportunity to try something new," said Kate Johnson, a student at TMJH. "I was able experience many different aspects of the construction industry, and I must say I enjoyed them all... Everything we did was hands on, and we didn't ever have to sit at a desk on our computers. This was a great way to take a break from the typical classroom and still get the chance to learn something new."

The Construction Management course sets the table for students to consider engineering, architecture, and construction trade as potential career options. And as Kate Johnson said, that's exactly what it inspired her to do: 

"At the moment, my preferred career would be something to do with architecture. I love all things math and I think that this would be a great way for me to combine construction and math."

Plus, said TMJH Principal Caleb Fine, "When they move out on their own, they know how to fix things - simply based on the hands-on knowledge they develop in the course!"

Funding from PCEF donors is a critical piece of CTE programming, especially with younger students.

"The funding from PCEF provides opportunities students wouldn't otherwise be afforded during their K-12 experience," said Huntsman. "Generally speaking, the state funding we receive for CTE is primarily allocated to teacher salaries and is reserved for grades 9 - 12. A lot of the programs you see in elementary and middle schools are possible due to the support received from PCEF.  The hands-on experience students received at TMJH in the Construction Technology class wouldn't have been possible without PCEF."

PCEF donors also support:

  • CTE's Culinary Arts programming and materials
  • Scholarships for high school students and adult learners for Mountainlands Technical College (MTECH) or another school of choice.
  • Software and hardware for new Computer Science certification programs.
  • Afterschool Technology Student Association (TSA) at EHMS
  • Seed funding for the groundbreaking Elementary Coding program

“Going forward, making CTE a foundational piece to education and exposing learners to the world of options will be critical,” said Hunstman. “As a result of the pandemic, CTE opportunities and connections are being forged in new ways.”  

Additional trade publications report there is now a skilled workforce deficit with hundreds of thousands of positions open in oil and gas, manufacturing, construction, telecom, and as many as "5.5 million transition-related renewable energy jobs.”

CTE teaches durable professional skills applicable to all of these trades. Classes build on each other, and students acquire a skill set - along with, in many cases, a valuable credential or college credit.

“In the last three years, our focus as a CTE department has been pathways that are progressive, meaning, each course has a next step. In addition, pathways teach skills that are high-wage and high-demand, which means we're constantly collaborating with industry professionals and reviewing the latest trends.” 

Right now, PCSD’s CTE pathways include:

  • Architecture & Construction Arts
  • Audio/Visual Technology & Communications
  • Business, Finance, & Marketing
  • Computer Science & Information Technology
  • Education & Training
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Health Science
  • Hospitality & Tourism
  • Human Services

Next year, an aviation pathway will be added, with PCHS coursework for Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drones) and Private Pilot training. Also being added: Teaching as a Profession 1 - which is an entry point to the Teaching as a Profession pathway; students will take this to prepare for PCCAPS coursework. 

All CTE and PCCAPS programs receive support from PCEF Donors - click here to take a look at all the programs funded last year!

The next step for the Construction and Structural Systems pathway will also be added next year. Construction Management 2 will take these students to an even higher level of preparation - and not a moment too soon, according to Huntsman.

“According to the Associated General Contractors of America, Utah has led the nation in adding construction jobs (7,900) since the pandemic began,” she said. ”Industry has been asking for us to create a pipeline of skilled workers who could immediately enter the workforce.”

In the past, CTE hasn’t had the facilities, pathways, or resources to make it happen. Now, thanks to our community’s overwhelming approval of the PCSD Facilities Bond, a new facility will allow CTE students to learn and work in environments on par with those found on job sites across the country.

“Replicating the equipment and supplies that exist in industry is a heavy lift,” Huntsman said. “Our students flourish in environments that embody hands-on, real-world skills and practical application.”

As the new facilities are completed in the coming years, PCEF is working to find ways to support the needs of the expanded programming. It knows first-hand how significant the practical application impact is on students. 

 “PCEF donor support will be critical in equipping these facilities with top notch materials,” noted Huntsman.

For ten years, PCEF donors have supported the PCCAPS Initiative, where students work with real clients on real projects with real deadlines. (Read one PCCAPS student’s story HERE!) PCCAPS and CTE are often intertwined, as coursework and real-world experience build upon each other. 

One of the best things about both CTE and PCCAPS is the ability for students to skillfully navigate potential career paths – without too much commitment or expense.

“It gives students a glimpse into their future - an opportunity to explore. Even a college pathway - oops, I discover I don’t love it - switch gears to explore engineering.” Huntsman weighed in. 

The even better news? According to Huntsman, “No matter what they’re studying, students leave equipped with durable skills like collaboration, communication, character, leadership, fortitude, critical thinking, and metacognition.”

The students, too, see CTE as an open door to opportunity... 

"I would love to keep learning about this subject," Kate Johnson said. "Any class like this one is something I would like to try in the future. I love all kinds of engineering and construction classes, and can't wait to continue learning about these types of careers."

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