Traditional career-tech fields get modern
Delaware’s New Castle County Vocational Technical School District offers 41 career programs in four technical high schools. And while some programs are in cutting-edge fields, like biotechnology, robotics and athletic health care, many are the same programs that have been offered for decades.
“Programs like construction, cosmetology and automotive technology have been core programs for the past 50 years and they will continue to be,” says Kathy Demarest, the district’s supervisor of public information. “The labor market for those jobs is strong and students remain interested in them.”
But due to changing industry requirements, even the most traditional career tech fields require more technical training than they once did.
“Cosmetology and culinary arts are two of our more popular programs and the level of technology used in the curriculum continues to change,” says Nick Weldy, superintendent at the Miami Valley Career Technology Center in Clayton, Ohio.
Today, professional chefs and cosmetologists often have their own businesses and must have the mathematical skills to make budgets and determine supply needs. Chemistry has also become more important for cosmetologists, who need to know the impact that chemicals may have on a customer’s hair.
Some of the traditional career tech fields, such as cosmetology, data entry and automotive mechanics, offer more immediate opportunities for employment because jobs in those fields often don’t require postsecondary education, Weldy says. Students, therefore, can use these jobs to support themselves while they are also pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
“There are no non-technical fields today,” says Douglas Major, superintendent of Oklahoma’s Meridian Technology Center. “Virtually every career field requires employees to interact with technology in some way.”