February is Career and Technical Education Month, a national campaign to increase awareness and celebrate the value of programs that prepare students for the world of work. This is the second of a series of stories focusing on CTE in West Michigan.

Last year, almost 13,500 high school students in West Michigan and 116,502 students statewide enrolled in CTE programs. Increasingly, CTE programs include college preparation, with opportunities for college credit and credentials, as well as meaningful work-based learning experiences.

Careerline Tech Center

Students in Ottawa and northern Allegan Counties can prepare for college and careers at Careerline Tech Center (CTC). CTC serves students from public and private high schools, as well as those who are homeschooled.

“Career and Technical Education provides students with the ability to gain valuable training, certifications and employability skills for future college and/or workplace success. In addition, CTE gives students the opportunity to apply those skills through partnerships with area business and industry,” said Dave Searles, director, CTC.

High school juniors and seniors can enroll in one of 28 programs such as:

  • dental, advanced health care, health care foundations, EMS
  • electrical, welding, plumbing, building tech, engineering design
  • teacher academy, agricultural sciences, culinary, hospitality
  • auto detail, auto technology, heavy equipment mechanics
  • visual communications, media communications, printing, marketing, web/game design

These programs provide students with opportunities to earn free industry-recognized certifications, free and low-cost college credit, and real-world career skills.

A head start on post-high school plans

CTC offers an early college program for high school juniors in certain career programs. Students can earn up to 30 free college credits, qualify for a paid internship at Herman Miller and receive a professional certification while finishing their high school diploma. The program fast-tracks participating students to a successful career as a machine operator, CNC, electrician and mechanic among others.

Many paths to success

CTE programs offer students a variety of ways to prepare for the future. According to the Michigan Department of Education, more than ninety-five percent of students who complete a CTE program go on to attend a post-secondary educational institution, seek advanced career and technical education training, sign up for military service or find employment within a year of graduation.