In case you haven’t been reading the headlines, workforce shortages are an increasing challenge impacting numerous American business sectors. Baby boomers are leaving the workforce and younger populations following them are fewer in number. The education sector is no exception.
Many schools and districts are struggling to find qualified teacher candidates. This issue is particularly problematic when considering career and technical education. In August 2022, 74% of public schools with at least one vacancy in CTE reported it was somewhat or very difficult to fill these positions with certified teachers.
There are several reasons why CTE has been hit particularly hard by teacher shortages. For one, salaries are usually lower than in other fields outside of education. Consider, that while some CTE educators follow a traditional four-year college pathway into education like language arts, mathematics, and science educators, many others arrive differently after serving careers in business and industry sectors. These individuals often enter the field because they want to “give back” and see an opportunity in a field of study that mirrors their industry knowledge and experience, but many face a salary differential.
For example, nurses often enter the field of health science education because they know a lot about the health care field. CTE students benefit from this wealth of industry knowledge and “real world” experience, but transitions from the medical profession into CTE can be sobering when it comes to salaries. U.S. News and World Report shares that the median Registered Nurse salary in 2021 was $77,600, and metropolitan areas are often well above the $100,000 mark.
While our community grapples with the issues impacting the nontraditional path into CTE education, we also have challenges related to the four-year route, which has traditionally served fields of study such as Family and Consumer Sciences and Agriculture Education.
Four-year college teacher educator programs have suffered staffing reductions and a good number have been eliminated altogether over the years. Some states have no collegiate institution within their borders providing a traditional four-year degree in a CTE teaching field. While that has an immediate impact related to preparing and graduating CTE teachers, it also reduces capacity related to CTE research and other foundational activities that support the CTE profession.
These are but a few issues impacting the CTE profession; there are others. Similar to colleagues in other fields of study, the CTE community is coalescing to build the CTE educator workforce through actions such as promoting the field to students, exploring innovative preparation models, raising salaries and establishing “grow your own” programs at the local level.
The Association for Career and Technical Education has been working to identify solutions to CTE teacher recruitment and retention challenges, both at the secondary and postsecondary levels. A Teach CTE Repository of research and promising programs and practices has been developed, ACTE’s federal advocacy team is promoting legislation to address the teacher pipeline, and a new toolkit for attracting students to the field is planned for release this spring.
In June, the Association will be hosting its second Teach CTE Summit to identify additional promising practices and policies and to discuss the research and data needed to address recruitment and retention issues within the CTE field, both at the secondary and postsecondary level.
Visit ACTE’s website for additional information and to register for the Teach CTE Summit.
Pearson is proud to continue our ongoing partnership with ACTE to provide CTE educators with resources and best practices to create educator-employer connections, leading to college and career success for all students. Learn more here.