National parent attention has turned to learning outcomes that result in employability. Educators call this “Career and Technical Education (CTE),” and tend to enable it with “STEM” programs for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Many parents and grandparents, though, remember work skills in “shop class” from decades past, and that it gave them real-life skills like auto and woodshop. Today's students, meanwhile, get labs for things like coding, but may be missing other professional-grade software for modern skills like graphics design, video editing, game design, network management, white-hat hacking, and more. These are the new “sweet spots” for sales to schools.
The Federal Department of Education recently held the “Rethink CTE Summit” and blogged about it and the new Perkins V grant here.
What’s driving this force is the fact that the economy has 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. The average student in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loans and is part of the growing number of people who cannot afford home ownership, a significant inhibitor of property tax growth. Other stories of degrees not worth the paper they are printed on have pervaded the American news, creating a distaste for the idea that “everyone should go to college.” Instead, pressure on K-12 schools to graduate students with workforce skills is growing.
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