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Social Systems


Teach Technical Career Pathways

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Tool Information


  1. Education
  2. Jobs
  3. Youth
  4. Technology/Modernization
  5. Service
  6. Family Farms and Ranches


A traditional high school education today prepares students for careers requiring a four-year college degree because most employers want employees with training and education beyond high school. However, many students are not ready or interested in post-secondary education.  Career and technical training programs can offer valuable and relevant skill, help retain students that might otherwise drop out, and provide them with marketable certifications and starting jobs.  These jobs often help fulfill an important skilled labor gap in the market place. It often happens that students who discover technical aptitudes eventually build confidence and purpose and find their way on a path to life-long-learning and advancement.  This tool is about developing robust career and technical programs to teach skills that are in high demand in the 21st Century job market.  


Excerpts from Up to the Challenge by Partnership for 21st Century Skills, the Association for Career and Technical Training Education and the State Directors for CTE:

Demand is increasing throughout the U.S. economy and around the world for "knowledge technologists" with a wide range of education, training and skills.  Worldwide, 31 percent of employers are struggling to fill available positions despite the economic downturn - not because there aren't enough workers, but because of a "talent mismatch between workers's qualifications and the specific skill set and combination of skills employers want" (manpower, 2010).  Changing demographics will exacerbate this situation.  Over the next decade or so, the knowledge and technical skills of retiring baby boomers need to be replaced. Employers say that skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity will become even more important to organizations in the future (American Management and Partnerships for 21st Century Skills, 2010).  

Technology, which is accelerating changes in the way work is done, contributes to the talent mismatch. Yet there is “a significant technology paradox,” according to Edward E. Gordon, author of Winning the Global Talent Showdown: “While overall younger workers are ‘tech junkies,’ they lack the talent, qualifications or even interest in careers centered in designing, making, repairing or applying and managing many 21st-century technologies” (Gordon, 2009).

“Today’s skill shortages are extremely broad and deep, cutting across industry sectors and impacting more than 80 percent of companies surveyed. This human capital performance gap threatens our nation’s ability to compete … [and] is emerging as our nation’s most critical business issue” (National Association of Manufacturers, 2005).

“The danger exists that Americans may not know enough about science, technology, or mathematics to contribute significantly to, or fully benefit from, the knowledge-based economy that is already taking shape around us” (National Academies, 2007).

Percentage of employers reporting that they have a “high need” for training programs in these skills:

Critical thinking/problem solving 92%
Ethics/social responsibility 71%
Professionalism/work ethic 70%
Creativity/innovation 69%
Lifelong learning/self-direction 64%

Source: The Ill-Prepared U.S. Workforce, 2009. The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families,
American Society for Training and Development, Society for Human Resource Management.

National Career Clusters Framework

Kansas CTE uses The National Career Clusters® Framework as the basis for organizing its secondary CTE programs into six career fields:

  • Arts, Communication, and Information;
  • Business, Marketing, and Management;
  • Environmental and Agricultural Systems;
  • Industrial, Manufacturing, and Engineering Systems;
  • Health Science; and
  • Human Resources and Services. 

Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce research suggests that Business Administration will be the largest overall cluster in Kansas.  IT will be the fastest growing cluster.  Marketing, Service and Sales will add the most jobs through 2018.  It is imperative to design education programs that will give Kansas students these skills.  

Additional Information


Kansas CTE Snapshot



Remaking Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century:  What Role High Schools Play



Updating Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century


Up to the Challenge: The Role of Career and Technical Education and 21st Century Skills in College and Career Rediness



The Kansas CTE


The mission of Kansas CTE is to provide students with relevant contexts for learning through pathways to college and career readiness. Career Clusters link what students learn in school to the knowledge and skills they need for success in post-secondary education and careers. The Workforce Development unit focuses efforts and resources to prepare workers for careers in Kansas’ highest-priority fields, such as health care, advanced manufacturing/aviation, energy, and health sciences. Education and skills are the keys not only to individual prosperity but also the economic vitality and quality of life for Kansas.

Technical training focused on workforce demand offers a value proposition to students, employers, and communities. Technical education and training prepares individuals with high skills for better careers and personal enrichment, provides employers with on-demand availability of skilled workers, and supplies industry with a steady pipeline of talent development for higher quality of life for Kansans.

Implementation Strategy

Champions and Partners

Kansas CTE

Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE)

USDE's Career and Technical Education or vocational education division

National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education

State Resources 


Medium (3-8 years)



Cost Details

Take advantage of existing research to understand shortcomings in local programs

Staff to develop curriculum and conduct outreach to regional schools

Because schools are underfunded in the State of Kansas, all curriculum that is outside of the Core Curriculum will have to find alternative funding sources

Costs of evaluation programs by third party consultants who will set up metrics and an accountability structure

The cost of educators and training as well as facilities and equipment

Funding Sources

CTE provides current funding for CTE programs

Implementation Details

A brief outline of the first few steps necessary for implementation are provided. The steps outlined here are provided only as a suggested starting point and other approaches are certainly valid.

Start to develop relationships with industry to determine what is needed and what pathways might be developed

1. Work with K-12 districts on vocational training opportunities.

2.  Develop regional facilities that can be shared.

3. Establish corporate and industrial mentorship programs and work exchange programs

4. Develop internship and training programs that will help students to learn what is needed while they are still in school

3.  Develop regional/ shared training for educators.

4.  Develop a network of local businesses and industry leaders who might offer educational internship and work/study programs.

Case Study

Broadmoor Technical Center, Shawnee Mission School District


The Broadmoor Technical Institute is a shared facility for all the Shawnee Mission School Districts in Kansas.  It is a resource available to any student who might want to learn relevant skills in 21st century fields such as the culinary and performing arts, or ship building and animation.   It is a state of the art facility and program that can be seen as a stepping stone for some students, and an enrichment program for others.  It offers applied learning programs that suite many learning styles.  


This is an example of how one facility and staff can serve multiple schools within a region.