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 third in a series of stories focusing on CTE in West Michigan.

Allegan County

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the high school graduation rate for CTE students is 97 percent, compared to a national average of 80 percent.

Gordon Wickens, the college access consultant at Allegan County Area Technical and Education Center, notes that partnerships play an important role in the impressive outcomes that CTE programs are seeing:

1. Area businesses are providing critical advice and opportunity to our students and instructors.

2. Community colleges, private and public universities and trade/technical schools inform our students through college fairs, tech center visits and campus tours.

3. The region’s workforce agency, Michigan Works!, bridges the gap between the business and education worlds with in-depth knowledge of employment needs and trends.

ACATEC, in partnership with employers, educators and workforce professionals, is preparing students for rewarding, high-wage career pathways.

You can visit the ACATEC Facebook page to see some of the projects the students have been involved in.

Barry County

Students in Barry County have access to career and technical training through Kellogg Community College. The college’s Fehsenfeld Center in Hastings offers a variety of CTE options, including nursing assistant training, emergency medical training and transfer courses for students interested in pursuing school beyond an associate degree.

The Center is also home to Kellogg Advanced Manufacturing Assembly, a successful training program that provides a pathway to high-paying skilled trade jobs with local manufacturers.

Colin McCaleb, Director of the Fehsenfeld Center, is quick to acknowledge the students at Hastings High School.

“They are young people who are stepping up and taking college classes while still in high school,” said McCaleb.