Your Guide to Engaging Young Learners in CTE skills

Kai Frazier
August 11, 2022

The economy and the workforce are rapidly changing, and at the heart of this transformation are the technologies that are reshaping how we live and work. For young learners, this means that the skills they need to be successful in the future are also changing. There are vast arrays of career options today that simply didn't exist a few decades ago, and many of these careers require specific technical skills. As such, it's more important than ever for young learners to develop strong CTE skills.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses offer young learners the opportunity to develop the skills they need to be successful in a wide range of careers. Currently, there are more than 12 million high school and college students in CTE courses across the country. From engineering and manufacturing to healthcare and information technology, CTE provides students with the chance to explore different career paths and gain the skills they need to succeed in the workforce.

This article explores various aspects of CTE, the benefits it offers students, and the challenges it faces. We'll also take a look at some of the innovative ways that educators are using CTE to engage young learners and prepare them for success in the 21st century workforce.

What are CTE skills?

Career and Technical Education (CTE) skills are the competencies required for success in a particular field or occupation. According to Applied Education Systems, 95% of students enrolled in CTE courses graduate high school. Another report states that 78% of CTE graduates enroll in post-secondary education full-time.

Those numbers are great!

CTE bridges the gap between high school, post-secondary education and specific careers. For example, CTE courses in manufacturing might focus on teaching students how to operate specific machinery or use computer-aided design (CAD) software. Alternatively, CTE courses in health care might focus on teaching students about the human body and different medical procedures.

CTE skills are not only the technical skills required for a particular job, but also the soft skills that are essential for success in any field. These include communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking. While many jobs require specific technical skills that can be learned through CTE courses, it's the soft skills that often make the difference between success and failure in the workplace.

The goal of CTE courses is to provide students with the skills they need to be successful in a particular career. In many cases, these courses also provide students with the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials or certifications. In 2017, 79% of high school graduates earned at least one credit in CTE. These credentials can give students a leg up when they enter the workforce or apply for college. One-third of CTE students are enrolled in programs preparing them for careers in leading industries.

Why are CTE skills important for young learners?

Young learners are the future of our workforce. It is important to engage them in CTE programs to introduce them to potential careers and help them develop the skills they need for success.

CTE programs also help young learners develop skills related to communication. A win-win.

CTE Skills: Communication

In order to be successful in any career, it is important to be able to communicate effectively. CTE programs can help young learners develop the communication skills they need to be successful in the workplace.

Some of the communication skills that CTE programs can help young learners develop include:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Writing
  • Nonverbal communication

Listening: Being a good listener is essential for effective communication. CTE programs can help young students learn how to listen carefully and understand what others are saying. This is done through active listening exercises and group discussions.

Speaking: CTE programs can also help young learners develop their speaking skills. This is essential for presenting information clearly and confidently. CTE programs can help students learn how to structure their thoughts, use proper grammar, and project their voices.

Writing: In today's world, lots of communication is done in writing. It is important for young learners to develop strong writing skills. CTE programs can help children learn how to write clearly and concisely through exercises and group projects.

Nonverbal communication: Nonverbal communication is important for all aspects of life, including the workplace. CTE programs can help young learners learn how to use body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice to communicate effectively.

CTE Skills: Teamwork

In today’s workforce, it is essential to be able to work well with others. CTE programs can help young learners develop the teamwork skills they need to be successful in the workplace.

Some of the teamwork skills that CTE programs can help young learners develop include:

  • Collaboration
  • Compromise
  • Conflict resolution

Collaboration: Being able to work together towards a common goal is essential for teamwork. CTE programs can help young learners learn how to collaborate with others. Group projects and team-building exercises help achieve this goal.

Compromise: In any team, there will be times when people have different opinions. It is important to be able to compromise and find a solution that everyone can agree on. CTE programs can help students learn how to compromise. This is done effectively through role-playing exercises.

Conflict resolution: It is important to be able to resolve conflicts in a productive way. CTE programs can help children learn how to handle conflict in the workplace. This is done through exercises, group discussions, and simulations.

CTE Skills: Problem solving

In any career, it’s important to be able to solve problems effectively. CTE programs can help young learners develop the problem-solving skills they need to be successful in the workplace.

Some of the problem-solving skills that CTE programs can help young learners develop include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Persistence

Critical thinking: Being able to think critically is essential for problem-solving. CTE programs can help. One way this is done is through exercises that require students to analyze a problem and come up with a solution.

Creativity: It is also important to be creative when solving problems. CTE programs can help young learners learn how to be creative in their thinking. This is done through brainstorming sessions and group projects.

Persistence: It is important to persevere when faced with a difficult problem. CTE programs can help young learners learn how to persevere. This is done through exercises that challenge students to find a solution despite setbacks.

What are the benefits of CTE skills for early learners?

Elementary learners are in their early developmental years of schooling and this is the time when they should be exposed to a variety of activities, interests, and skills.

CTE can provide early learners with the opportunity to explore practical and useful skills while simultaneously developing academically. CTE programs can engage young learners in hands-on and project-based learning, which has been shown to improve academic performance and social skills. There are a number of reasons why it is beneficial for early learners to be engaged in CTE:

  • Improved academic performance: CTE courses are often more hands-on and project-based than traditional academics, which can help some students learn better. It helps students see how their academic courses connect to the “real world” which can give them a greater sense of purpose for learning.
  • Increased college and career readiness: CTE programs expose students to potential careers, helping them make informed decisions about their future. Students in CTE programs are also more likely to enroll in college and earn a degree or credential in a related field.
  • Improved social and emotional skills: CTE courses can help students develop important social and emotional skills, such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. These skills are essential for success in both college and career.

What are some challenges that learners face in developing CTE skills?

While there are many benefits to developing CTE skills, there are also some challenges that learners may face in accessing this important curriculum:

  • Lack of exposure
  • Lack of resources
  • Lack of support
  • High costs

Lack of exposure

One challenge for many students today is a lack of  exposure to CTE programs. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as schools not offering CTE courses or students not being aware of the benefits of CTE. One reason schools may not offer CTE courses is because they are not required to do so by the government. As a result, students may not have the opportunity to explore CTE options unless they take it upon themselves to seek out information and programs. It is important that students are involved in activities that interest them and that they have the opportunity to explore different careers.

Lack of resources

Another challenge is that CTE programs often lack resources. Educational institutions and parents might not have the right tools or equipment like availability of computers on a one-to-one ratio, software and courseware that can be installed on each individual computer, availability of tool kits for each student to learn practical skills, power equipment, modular laboratories, and more. 

Some CTE programs also require students to purchase their own supplies, which can be a financial barrier for some families. This can make it difficult for students to get the most out of their CTE experience.

Lack of support

Another challenge is that CTE programs often lack support from educators, parents, and employers as they are more focused on academic courses. Academic courses are seen as more important and receive more funding, while CTE courses are viewed as supplemental. As a result, CTE programs may not have the same level of resources or support as other programs.  This can make it difficult for students to find mentors, internships, and other opportunities to help them develop their skills. It is important that students have adults in their life who believe in their ability to succeed in a career.

High costs

Another challenge is that CTE programs can be expensive. This is often due to the need for specialized equipment and supplies. Such equipment is necessary for some programs, but might not be affordable for all. This can limit student participation and make it difficult for students to get the most out of their CTE experience.

But where there are challenges, there are also solutions. There are ways to overcome these challenges and help students develop the skills they need for success.

How can parents help their child get involved early?

The sooner a child is exposed to CTE, the greater the chance they will have of developing an interest in the subject matter.

Here are a few ways parents can help their child get involved in CTE early:

  • Encourage children to explore their interests: Help your child find CTE activities and resources that match their interests. This could include books, websites, articles, videos, and software programs.
  • Get them involved in extracurricular activities: There are many extracurricular activities that focus on CTE skills. These activities can help your child learn more about their interests and develop important skills.
  • Find a mentor or role model: A mentor or role model can provide guidance, support, and information about careers in CTE fields. If you know someone who works in a field your child is interested in, ask if they would be willing to meet with your child or be available for questions. You can also search for mentors online.
  • Talk to their teachers: Educators can be a great resource for information about CTE activities and programs. They may also be able to connect your child with other students who share their interests.
  • Explore online resources: There are many online resources that can help your child learn about CTE skills and careers. These resources can be a great way for your child to explore their interests and get started on developing their CTE skills.

How can educators support early learners in developing CTE skills?

Educators are under pressure to prepare students for an increasingly competitive global economy. In order to support early learners in developing CTE skills, educators need to provide opportunities for students to explore their interests by providing resources, access to mentors, and opportunities to work with industry professionals.

To meet this challenge, and help educators support early learners in developing CTE skills, Kai XR helps provide experiential learning opportunities that help students develop the CTE skills they need to be successful.

Kai XR is a one-of-its-kind virtual reality platform that allows students to explore and learn in immersive, three-dimensional environments. With VR experiences, young learners can explore the world and learn about different cultures, languages, and careers. Students can also:

  • Walk through immersive virtual field trips
  • Interact with 3D models
  • Gain exposure to global issues and current events
  • Build emotional and social intelligence
  • Practice problem solving and critical thinking skills
Screen with a selection of virtual field trips from KaiXR.com

Teach CTE skills with immersive virtual field trips

In the VR classroom, students can take a tour of the solar system or the human body without leaving their desk. Kai XR has a VR experience for every interest:

  • Arts and culture 
  • Animation
  • Engineering 
  • Social studies
  • Sports
  • Healthcare 
  • and more

CTE skills with 3D models 

VR kids can use emerging tech to examine three-dimensional models of historical artifacts and landmarks. Can you imagine exploring the Obama portraits in the National Portrait Gallery that were unveiled back in 2018? 

Kai XR’s library of VR experiences students can do just that. But that's not all! With the introduction of metaverse games, students can also learn by playing in virtual worlds. Imagine learning about the evolution of cells by performing experiments in a VR world or even speaking with an author who lives across the globe all within the confines of a classroom.

Global issues and current events

“The Negro leagues had some of the best talent in the game of baseball” Quote from Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Part of the Kai XR Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Virtual Field trip.

Current events and awareness about global issues are often not part of the curriculum for early learners. However, with VR, educators can immerse their students in experiences that help them: 

  • Understand complex social issues 
  • Explore different cultures and regions of the world 
  • Gain a better understanding of the interconnectedness of global issues  

For example, VR can help a student interested in journalism to learn what it's like to be a foreign correspondent in a war zone, understand what it's like to be a refugee, or explore the effects of climate change in the Arctic.

In addition to developing career skills, this type of exposure can help young learners understand that their actions have consequences on a global scale and help them develop empathy for people and cultures different from their own. It can also encourage them to take action on issues they are passionate about.

An exposure to historical events can help young learners understand that history is not just about dates and facts, but about real people who have faced real challenges. It can also help them understand how different cultures and regions have interacted with each other, and how those interactions have shaped the world today. 

For example, Black history is often not given the attention it deserves in schools. With Kai XR, students can take virtual field trips through the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, The National Portrait Gallery, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, The Schomburg Centre for Research in Black Culture, and participate in many other Black History Month activities including activities for kids that bring the past to life.

Emotional and social intelligence

VR experiences can help students learn how to manage their emotions, have empathy for others, and resolve conflicts. Such social-emotional learning can help students reflect on their abilities, challenge themselves, and see the world from a different perspective from the safety of their own VR classroom. This can also help educators generate discussions about their students’ needs in order to best support them. It is important for young people to understand that we're all connected and that our actions have an impact on others, whether they're next to us or across the world. Virtual field trips can help make that connection. A virtual field trip to the zoo can teach us about the different animal species, their ecology, and the importance of conservation. It can also teach us about the emotional intelligence of animals. 

Problem solving and critical thinking skills

Since educational VR experiences are still relatively new, they present a unique opportunity for educators to challenge their students to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions. Students can use VR to solve problems in areas such as science, math, and engineering. For example, in the case of a complex mathematical question, students can virtually touch, move, and explore different variables similar to a metaverse stimulation to see how they affect the outcome. This trial-and-error method of problem-solving can help students understand the concept in a more hands-on way and remember it for a longer period.

Kai XR is changing the way young learners engage with the world around them. VR is an important tool for educators because it allows students to have direct experiences and explore new things without having to leave the classroom.

PricewaterhouseCooper's report from prior to the pandemic estimates that VR and AR have the potential to add up to $1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030. This number is expected to grow as more companies and industries adopt VR and AR technology. And that's why students need to keep up with the growing demands of the workforce and build CTE skills.

Kai XR is the Future of Education. With AR and VR experiences they aim to provide educators with the tools they need to engage their students and develop 21st-century skills that will prepare them for the jobs of the future.

The road to CTE skills begins with one step

Modern problems require modern solutions and that's where VR and AR come in. These immersive technologies can help young learners engage with the world around them. In a world that's becoming increasingly globalized, such immersive experiences will become more important for students. With so many possibilities, it's no wonder why VR is being hailed as the future of education.

Kai XR is at the forefront of this VR revolution with its expansive library of AR and VR experiences. From immersive experiences in art & culture, field trips, and global landmarks to simulations that put students in the shoes of different professionals, Kai XR has something for everyone. And with new experiences being added all the time, there's always something new to explore. If you're looking for a way to engage your students and prepare them for the jobs of the future, look no further than Kai XR.

To learn more about how you can make the most of Kai XR in your classroom, explore our product, or contact us with any questions you may have.

Featured photo by Kindel Media

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In memory of my sunshine, Ky(ra) G. Frazier. Love you to the moon and back.