Student works on robot
A student works on a robot. Courtesy Pixabay

Every student in our county should graduate with options. To me, that’s more than whether they want to attend a four-year or two-year college, or go directly into the workforce. It’s also an opportunity to equip our students with the tools they need to make a positive difference in their communities and in the world. 

February is Career Technical Education Month, a time when we celebrate all that educators are doing to give students career options. This work is vital to me for so many reasons. For one, it’s closely tied to the San Diego County Office of Education goal of reducing poverty in our communities. It’s also important to our work to support community schools in the region. 

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Children can begin learning about different careers and jobs in elementary and middle school. They can get hands-on experience through industry tours and talks and explore different skills through project-based learning. In high school, students can learn trades, achieve certifications, get licensed and participate in community projects through career pathways. 

The career technical education pathways our schools create for students allow them to follow their passions while being engaged in coursework that will prepare them for college or other options after graduation. While these programs develop technical skills and industry-specific knowledge, they also build the soft skills that are vital to any potential career.

Ensuring access to high-wage, high-growth careers provides opportunities for economic mobility, allowing today’s students and San Diego County to thrive in the future. This gives today’s youth the opportunity to make a difference in their own backyard.

Career technical education doesn’t have to be something you just read about. You can learn more about professional learning, pathway development, or helping students explore careers on the San Diego County Office of Education website. If you have expertise to share with students, consider serving as a classroom speaker or helping develop a program that gives students authentic real-world professional experiences at a local school.

Or just thank a teacher for the opportunities they’re providing students. There is plenty all of us can do to help celebrate Career Technical Education Month. 

Dr. Paul Gothold is San Diego County superintendent of schools.