The Key to Helping Students Graduate Career Ready: Give school counselors the tools and resources to do their jobs

This week, we are excited to celebrate two incredibly important events: National School Counseling Week and the beginning of Career Technical Education (CTE) Month! We are honored to recognize the incredible work that school counselors do day in and day out to prepare students for education and career success, and eager to highlight the role they play in encouraging students to participate in CTE pathways.

CTE begins as early as middle school, and provides students with the core academic, technical and professional skills necessary to succeed in a specific career area. Students who participate in CTE are able to gain the hands-on, real world skills we know parents and students want more of in their education, and employers say they’re not getting enough of from employees entering the workforce. Six of 10 hardest to fill jobs are in technical fields, or require a CTE background, and nearly 60 percent of companies report having difficulty filling job openings because of the lack of qualified applicants.

While CTE is great for the economy, it’s also a vastly under-appreciated college and career option for students. Students enrolled in CTE pathways are more likely to graduate high school, just as likely to attend college, and are twice as likely to report they are “very satisfied” with their education as compared to those who do not enroll in a CTE pathway.

Yet, despite the proven benefits — including the fact that CTE pathways are strong and viable roads to college and high-skill and high-wage careers — enrollment in CTE remains largely stagnant.

And this is where school counselors come in: We know that school counselors are among the most trusted sources for information about college and career options, and for good reason. A survey conducted by Advance CTE found that 80 percent of parents and students identify them as the source they want to hear from most for information about CTE and education pathways.

We also know that school counselors are among the busiest people out there — and are responsible for as many as 500 students at once! As found in a recently released report, school counselors are increasingly engaging in career advising and development activities, so they need more information, resources and support to reach students about the promise of CTE.

Which is why Advance CTE and the Siemens Foundation decided to embark on a new initiative to better support school counselors and their role in educating students and parents about CTE. Over the next two years, Advance CTE, in partnership with national leaders in CTE and school counseling, will develop resources and tools school counselors need to be more effective champions for CTE within their schools and communities.

We’re excited to support school counselors in educating today’s students about all the options that can get them on the road to a high-skill, high-wage career, including CTE. As we’re learning: Sometimes it’s more than the message, it’s the messenger. And, boosting school counselors across the country is core to the solution.

This post was authored by David Etzwiler and Kimberly Green:

David Etzwiler is CEO of the Siemens Foundation, which ignites and sustains today’s STEM workforce and tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. The Foundation has increasingly focused its STEM efforts on U.S. middle skill workforce development.

Kimberly Green is the Executive Director of Advance CTE, which represents state leaders of Career Technical Education. For the past twenty-four years, Kimberly A. Green has worked extensively on federal policy impacting CTE. Working closely with Congress, the Administration and a broad range of stakeholders, she represents the interests of and seeks support for CTE.