Over the past five years, I have dedicated myself to developing and improving Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at Waubonsee Community College. Over the years, data has shown that the demand for skilled workers in various industries is ever increasing. How do we, as an educational institution, fill the employment gaps that exist in our region? Community colleges are the beginning of a pathway. This pathway may lead to additional college education. It may lead to employment. It may lead to additional certifications or training. No matter where you are on your pathway for education, community colleges provide many different options for lifelong learning.
At Waubonsee, we develop partnerships with our area high schools to provide opportunities for students to explore different career paths. Students are able to meet faculty, learn about programs, and gain hands-on experience in some of our most high-demand and high-wage careers. Some of these partnerships have also resulted in dual credit opportunities which allow students to get a head start on their degrees while in high school. We also partner with many four-year universities to help our CTE students continue on in their education pathway after completing their degree at Waubonsee.
In addition, Waubonsee works with area employers and leads program advisory councils to guide and build program curriculum. Understanding regional employment needs helps the college shape CTE programs and ensure they are relevant for hiring managers. Another benefit of working with employers is the ability to offer students work-based learning opportunities to enhance their classroom experience.
The pathway to education affords many choices. Some choose to pursue a degree at Waubonsee that leads to a four-year degree at a university. Some choose to pursue a degree at Waubonsee that leads to employment. Whether students are heading to college or the workforce, career and technical education prepares students for the future.