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Promoting Career and Technical Education Among Secondary School Students

8/07/2015

Amidst global concern for the employment prospects of young adults, there is increasing interest in promoting career and technical education (CTE) among secondary school students.

MJB recently hosted Mr. Diallo Shabazz, Director of CTE for the New York City Department of Education, for a two-day professional exchange.  Diallo’s visit to Israel follows earlier visits by MJB delegations in New York that have included the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Education. 

Mr. Shabazz’s visit to Israel allowed him to share his expertise and knowledge of operating one of the largest and most developed CTE programs in the world, with over 117,000 students in 318 programs in both specialized CTE and comprehensive high schools.

The highlight of the visit was a seminar held at MJB for government and education professionals. 

In the seminar, Mr. Shabazz explained how New York City’s CTE strategy combines high-quality academics with an intensive engagement with industry.

From an academic perspective, whereas vocational education of generations past was often seen as a path for students with lower academic skills, modern-day CTE education training also offers hi-tech tracks for outstanding students, including cyber security, robotics, automotive engineering, and more.  All CTE students graduate with a regular comprehensive high school diploma and special industry certifications in particular areas of competence.  Their course load is larger, and in many cases, CTE students graduate with college-level credits in hand.  

The engagement with industry, Mr. Shabazz explained, is what gives CTE its credibility.  Each CTE program is developed in collaboration with industry partners, who tailor the curriculum so that students graduate with the specific skill sets necessary for successful entry into the field. 

Special Industry Commissions serve as forums for teachers and corporate professionals to share best practices around technological training and credentialing, as well as evolving industry trends.  The Commissions support teacher training and “externships,” so that the CTE teachers themselves become experts in their fields. They also help to facilitate the students’ workplace internships, research projects, and participation in various competitions that provide direct field exposure and hands-on experience in their area of study.

Mr. Shabazz shared how CTE-industry partnerships in New York have moved beyond corporate philanthropy to corporate social responsibility and leadership.  Corporations use their involvement to brand themselves as socially responsible companies, to expose a new generation of technical professionals to their products and services, and to help design the training programs in order to create tailored HR pipelines for hiring better-trained employees. In exchange, CTE schools leverage their industry relationships to design better educational programs and internships, and even obtain equipment at lower costs.

The seminar sparked much discussion from the participants, who took the opportunity to take stock of the state of CTE in Israel.  Representatives from the ministries of Education and Economy both spoke about their growing cooperation in advancing CTE.  It is essential to have “different solutions for different students,” explained Dr. Florence Azran, Assistant Director of CTE for the Ministry of Education.  Nurit Birger, from the Ministry of Economy, agreed with this assessment, adding that many students—particularly those who are less inclined to pursue academic studies—"find themselves" while enrolled in CTE programs, and end up in career tracks they would otherwise not have pursued. 
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