Career and Technical Programs Break Barriers in Rural Monterey County – KION546


MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION) One way for rural students to get ahead of their peers is to take vocational and technical training, or CTE, in high school. South Monterey County Schools are joining forces to advance workplace learning opportunities for high school students.

Essentially, workplace learning is an educational strategy that provides students with real work experiences by connecting academic knowledge and technical skills to apply them in the job market. These technical courses prepare students for employment and higher education.

The South Monterey County Workplace Learning Collaboration is a collaboration between South County Vocational Technical Education (CTE) programs, Gonzales Unified School Districtt, Soledad Unified School District, and Southern Monterey County Joint Union High School District.

Students learn what it takes to thrive and succeed in the professional world with opportunities for part-time employment, shadowing, internships, mentoring and learning. In addition to earning a high school diploma, students can specialize in a technical career. Some careers include agriculture, engineering, computer science. Almost 2,000 students enroll in the CTE program in the South Monterey County Joint School District each year, from the first to the last year of high school.

“CTE programs are essential to California’s economy. The state Department of Education recognizes this and that is why it is investing so much in these programs, as they help provide the skills that the next generation of the workforce needs to be successful, ”said Liliana. de la Torre. CTE coordinator for SMCJUHSD. “We are constantly trying to elevate our CTE programs to be an important part of the recovery of our rural economy.”

CTE programs also allow students to explore other career paths. Gerardo Solís completed the four-year engineering course as part of the CTE program at Greenfield High School. But when he started taking computer classes, he soon realized that was the career he wanted to pursue.

“If it hadn’t been for this program, I would probably pursue an engineering career. I don’t think I would have liked it as much as IT,” Solís said. “I wanted to learn more about IT. I knew the engineer had computer skills, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to like him.”

Solís founded the Robotics Club at his school where the team competed against other schools in Monterey. Apple funded the club that helped them recruit more members. In addition, Solís is the treasurer of the computer science class and the president of the Computer Science Club.

Each district has its specialties. SMCJUHSD has agriculture, engineering and computer science. Soledad High School as a CTE education program to train the next generation of teachers.

Currently, students can only participate in CTE courses that are offered in their respective school districts. However, de la Torres said they were trying to expand their program. In addition to learning how each district implements different career course programs, collaborative workplace learning allows all participating districts to take advantage of employment opportunities for any industry. For example, if a farming business caters to the South County School District with 20 student spaces, all participating districts can offer this opportunity to their students.

“We want to work together to strengthen and strengthen our region,” said De la Torre. “This is the key to what we are trying to do.”

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