We hear more about technical education, for example the Vocational Technical Education Center project at the Phipps Bend Industrial Park in Hawkins County. But some people we talk to don’t quite understand what vocational and technical education (CTE) is.
CTE teaches specific job skills to students in middle and high schools and post-secondary institutions. It is divided into what are called 16 career groups encompassing high demand careers. They include healthcare, business, sales, finance, information technology, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), manufacturing, logistics, hospitality, government, law, l agriculture, personal services, construction, training and audiovisual technology.
According to the Advance CTE website, vocational and technical education “provides students of all ages with the academic and technical skills, knowledge and training necessary to be successful in their future careers. CTE prepares these learners for the world of work by introducing them to workplace skills and makes academic content accessible to students by providing it in a practical context.
CTE prepares students to go directly to work in fields where workers are needed immediately. Specific jobs would include work in construction, welding, firefighting, police, cooking, physiology, nursing, veterinary work, computers, software, graphic arts, mechanical engineering, architectural writing, business and marketing. CTE is more hands-on training than traditional classroom instruction, and it is growing rapidly as well-paying jobs are virtually guaranteed.
The new CTE installation proposed for Phipps Bend is moving forward. It will serve Hawkins County students and adults at a site across from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology site in the park. The transfer of ownership of the property is dependent on the Hawkins County school system seeking funding over the next three years.
Hawkins County Schools CTE supervisor Brandon Williams said plans should move faster than that. “We would like to launch this project as quickly as possible. The roughly 27,000 square foot project will likely cost between $ 5 million and $ 7 million, but is certainly expected to be less than $ 10 million, Williams said.
Williams and Hawkins School Principal Matt Hixson recently met with the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board and got their approval. This followed an approval vote by the board of directors of the Phipps Bend joint venture. Further approvals await.
“We’re pretty much at the third leg of 2,000,” said Williams.
Earlier this year, Hixson and Williams asked the school board to allow them to begin exploring the idea of the new CTE center offering programs to students at three Hawkins County high schools: Volunteer, Cherokee and Clinch.
“We’re not going to shut down our programs at Cherokee or Volunteer,” Williams said. He said elsewhere in the region, the Greene Technology Center hosts CTE offerings for schools in Greeneville and Greene County. Across the border in Scott County, students from Gate City, Rye Cove and Twin Springs take CTE courses at a central facility.
The growing emphasis on CTE to provide career preparation skills helps meet the growing demand for skilled labor in the United States while immediately putting students to work in highly profitable careers. We need more.