Harrisburg, PA – As students explore their options for the next school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is encouraging them to consider pursuing a career and technical education (CTE). Building a world-class STEM-trained workforce is a priority for the Wolf Administration, which is investing in CTE programs and working with communities to expand learning opportunities.

“Whether they choose to enter the workforce or continue their education after they graduate from high school, all students should be equipped with the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to succeed,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “Thousands of students across Pennsylvania have found that their path to postsecondary success begins at a career and technical education center.”

Transformed from vo-tech of the past, Pennsylvania’s career and technical education centers (CTC) offer dynamic, state-approved programs that lead to the development of real-world, in-demand skills as well as industry-recognized credentials and certifications. Students must apply to enroll in a career and technical education center. 

Career and technical education (CTE) in Pennsylvania offer high school students the opportunity to develop critical skills through a combination of challenging academic opportunities and hands-on learning experiences. In 2020, Pennsylvania had 68,105 students enrolled in career and technical centers and high school programs. In the last decade, Pennsylvania has nearly doubled its number of industry credentials awarded to students as well.

“STEM serves as the foundation to many career and technical education programs, from architecture to business management, information technology to hospitality and tourism, health science to transportation, and much more,” said PDE’s Director of the Bureau of Career and Technical Education Lee Burket. “CTE students have the opportunity to make connections with employers, gain real-world skills, and earn industry credentials and certifications before graduating from high school. CTE is without limits!”

Pennsylvania has seen an increase in districts across the state offering PDE-approved CTE programs. From the 2019-20 school year to the 2020-21 school year, 142 new programs were provided to high school students. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Education granted PDE reapproval as an accrediting agency for career and technical centers that offer adult technical education programs. Additionally, PDE is in the process of establishing CTE pathways that lay out a sequence of courses from middle school through postsecondary education.

Earlier this week, PDE recognized Raymond A. Slifer of Quakertown Community High School, Pennsylvania’s first-ever CTE student recipient of the U.S. Presidential Scholars Award. Slifer was one of 20 students nationwide to receive this honor.Earlier this year, Governor Tom Wolf announced $10.8 million in PAsmart Advancing Grants to expand access to computer science and STEM education for Pennsylvania learners. Combined with PAsmart Targeted Grants announced in 2020, the Wolf administration has awarded nearly $20 million to bolster STEM and computer science (CS) in schools during the 2020-21 school year. A full list of 2021 PAsmart Advancing Grant recipients, projects, and award amounts can be found on PDE’s website.