In the past, vocational education was considered an alternative to a college education. Vocational education focused on connecting education and work with little focus on academics. In response to concerns over the ability of Americans to compete in a global environment, vocational education evolved into rigorous, academic course work along with the technical knowledge, skills and abilities. This evolution is now known as career and technical education (CTE) and it is preparing our students for the new workforce.
The Center on Education and the Workforce (http://cew.georgetown.edu/recovery2020) reports that 65 percent of all jobs in 2020 will require some type of postsecondary education, with only about 35 percent of all jobs open to those with only a high school education. Just two generations ago these percentages were reversed allowing many with a high school diploma to find good jobs that paid a sustainable, living wage. Studies have shown the importance of obtaining a postsecondary credential in obtaining employment in the future. As technology continues to advance in every area of business and industry, the need to train students in the latest technology is increasing as well. As our workforce changes and new demands for technical knowledge appear, the community college has positioned itself to be a leader in supplying the workforce with well-educated and well-trained employees. The competitive workforce and the need for skilled, technical workers will bring students, both new and seasoned, to the community college to develop or upgrade skills.
Every career has an educational pathway for students to follow. Some careers may only require a certificate program while others require a higher level of education. Some students have the opportunity to begin college work while still in high school. Students may begin their CTE course work in high school and earn college credit if the high school course and teacher meet the college dual credit requirements. Research shows that students who participate in dual credit are more likely to complete a certificate or degree. Career and technical education focuses on programs of study that align high school career and technical education with postsecondary career and technical education. These alignments have the following characteristics: 1) provide a seamless transition from high school to community college, 2) are academically rigorous, 3) are progressive, non-duplicative courses, 4) provide dual credit opportunities when appropriate, and 5) lead to an industry-recognized credential, a postsecondary certificate, or an associate or baccalaureate degree.
In keeping with our college mission, career and technical education programs are developed by Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) based on labor market needs of the district and the feasibility of offering the program, including faculty, staff and equipment costs. A unique dimension in the development and ongoing support for CTE programs is the use of advisory committees. Advisory committees include representation from business and industry, secondary school/career center partners, adult education, postsecondary faculty and administration, and four-year institutions. Business and industry are critical partners because they can review the curriculum and inform faculty about the current knowledge, skills and abilities that students need to be successful in the workplace. Development/changes to curriculum are substantiated through this critical form of feedback ensuring graduates can meet the needs of employers. Many CTE programs offer students the opportunity for internships and our business/industry partners support the programs by offering internship opportunities to our students. Secondary education partners and four-year educational institutions can work together to create a smooth transition from institution to institution. Adult education is partnering with career and technical education programs to transition students into career fields at the same time the student is working toward completion of a high school equivalency. This partnership allows students to begin college-level course work in a career field with a highly developed support system to ensure success.
LLCC offers 31 different associate of applied science degree programs and 62 different certificate programs. Associate of applied science degrees are generally 60 credit hours and certificate programs range from three credit hours to 43 credit hours. Thirty percent of the students enrolled in credit bearing courses in academic year 2016 were career and technical education students. The top enrolled career and technical education programs included certified nursing assistant, associate degree nursing, emergency medical technician, truck driving and industrial electronics. In 2016, 1,201 associate of applied science degrees and certificates were awarded by LLCC.
For more information visit the career-training website at http://www.llcc.edu/career-training/ or call Wendy Howerter, 217.786.2384.