CTE roundtable discusses future workforce needs

CTE roundtable discusses future workforce needs

Culinary arts teacher Chase Johnson appears in the classroom kitchen.

Culinary arts teacher Chase Johnson appears in the classroom kitchen.

The US workforce will need more workers by 2025, if various reports from the US government and manufacturers prove to be correct.

Summer Stephens, superintendent of the Churchill County School District, held a panel discussion in early December on career and technical education courses offered in high school and the importance of these classes to today’s students.

“We’re going to need 1 million workers within three years not just in Fallon and Nevada, but across the country,” Stephens told a small group of students, educators and community professionals who attended the 90-minute panel.

Stephens said it’s important to think about the future and how postsecondary education can fill those openings, something Stephens said she thinks the school district has done a good job with its CTE class offerings. She said commencement exercises in early June are not the end, but the beginning for the graduates.

As students begin the next chapter in their lives, Stephens said there are ways for students to become competent in the race for future careers.

“You don’t necessarily have to go to college,” she added.

Currently, Stephens said up to 70% of CCHS students go through the pathway to prepare them for job readiness. She said 70% of the school district is the second highest in the state with health courses appearing as the most in-demand program.

The school district has developed strategic themes to include ensuring that all students are ready for life, developing the whole person, and strengthening communication and partnerships with the community.

The school board has developed a goal for end-of-course CTE and workplace readiness: “The percentage of students who pass year-end program completions in all CTE areas at Churchill County High School will increase from 59.04 % at the end of 2020-2021 to 70% at the end of 2023-2024.

In building work-based learning in Fallon Forward-Churchill County, both the school district and the Churchill Entrepreneurial Development Association have further detailed the role of the school, the role of CEDA, and the role of the business/company/organization. The school will connect with CEDA and have businesses place students in the most appropriate opportunities. CEDA’s role includes four areas: connects business with the NV Career Explore Hub, serves as a liaison between schools and companies; to support companies in the field of liability insurance issues and financing opportunities for internships and paid internships; present orientations and learning opportunities for businesses.

One of Stephens’ goals is for the school district to hire a workforce coordinator and establish a job center. Ultimately, one goal would be to train local students with workplace skills.

“We want kids to go out and practice everything they learn in school,” she emphasized.

Stephens said the high school offers many courses within its CTE program, but she laments that the school has no business program due to staffing.

The roundtable portion of the workshop included approximately seven stations where participants will answer key questions about current offerings, future opportunities, and funding. Attendees then toured high school facilities offering welding, culinary arts, agriculture, health services and auto mechanics.

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