Technical Education Post

News and Information for Technical Educators

Positive Impacts of CTE

Research by the CTE Research Network shows that student participation in career & technical education (CTE) had significant positive impacts on students’ high school academic achievement, graduation rates, employability skills and college readiness. They also showed better employment outcomes than students who did not participate in CTE programs. Positive Impacts of CTE.

We know that employment in Arizona is expected to increase by 721,689 jobs by 2030, thanks to a 2020 report by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), which means there will be plenty of career opportunities for those with proper credentials – many of which can be earned without attending a four-year university. By 2030, 60% of jobs will not require an associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate degree, but they will require workers to hold industry-related skills.

Students who pursue career and technical education schooling receive credentials for entry level positions in rapidly growing industries. In Arizona, CTE program completers can fill employment gaps in key industries including aerospace, bioscience, health care, IT security, and manufacturing.

Additional benefits of CTE education include heightened passion for learning, access to industry professional mentorship, less financial strain and increased economic independence.

Passion for Learning

Students taking CTE courses have higher graduation rates than their peers. Nationally 84% of students graduate high school on time. Meanwhile in the 2022-23 school year, 99% of Arizona high schoolers who were also enrolled in central programs at Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC), a career and technical education school district in the West Valley, graduated on time.

Improvements in graduation rates may be in part due to the real-world application of skills that CTE teaches. This work-based learning model is an integral part of CTE, where students have hands-on learning experiences that directly correlate with a specific industry.

Many students struggle to feel engaged in their learning but with relevant and active coursework like that offered through CTE, students are more invested and attentive to their education.

Professional Industry Mentorship

The curriculum goes beyond a textbook and provides students with mentorship, industry knowledge, credentials, and sets them up for career readiness.

West-MEC CTE instructors are leaders in their industries and have essential insight on the job market and economic outlook that are invaluable to this next generation of skilled workers.

At West-MEC, not only do students participate in hands-on learning, but they are also growing their professional network and making connections with leaders in their future industries. West-MEC has built strategic partnerships with Valley leaders like Pacific Dental Services and Abrazo Health that allow students to work within their many locations.

West-MEC is always looking to develop new partnerships with valued community leaders. At the end of 2023, West-MEC launched a new partnership with Phoenix Raceway. As the new official CTE partner of Phoenix Raceway, West-MEC students (Automotive Technology, Automotive Collision, Aviation Maintenance Technology, Law & Public Safety, Powersports, Precision Machining, and Welding) can now receive hands-on learning related to NASCAR career paths.

Less Financial Strain and Increased Economic Independence

College tuition is on the rise in the United States, averaging around $36,000 a year. The National Center for Education Statistics reported high school students are less likely to enroll in college if they think their family cannot afford to send them. CTE programs open doors for these students by offering a more affordable option.

About 33% of students in undergraduate degree programs change their college major at least once, leading to more time spent pursuing a degree and more financial burden. A major reason for this is limited real-world career exploration opportunities during high school.

Meanwhile, according to the U.S Department of Labor, CTE credentials generally lead to entry-level jobs with average salaries ranging from $40,000 – $77,000. This is a near immediate return on the investment from students in CTE education.

Those who decide against pursuing their trade, but instead choose to obtain a four-year degree, still reap the countless benefits of CTE and are often more prepared than their peers for continued education. If students desire to pursue higher education, West-MEC is partnered with Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, as well as many community colleges, to offer dual enrollment opportunities.

CTE programs prove that the American dream doesn’t solely need to revolve around a four-year, university degree. CTE programs create abundant pathways for students by bridging education and the workforce.

West-MEC is eager to continue its mission to prepare students today, for tomorrow’s careers. To learn more about West-MEC and the CTE courses offered, visit

Source: Positive Impacts of CTE

Dr. Scott Spurgeon is the West-MEC Superintendent.

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