Lincoln Trail College is joining community colleges throughout the state to celebrate Career and Technical Education Month.
"Lincoln Trail College realizes that in the 21st Century there are careers out there that don't necessarily require a bachelor's degree or higher, but they need something in addition to a high school diploma," said Lincoln Trail College Dean of Instruction Brent Todd. "These are careers that are highly technical and for me, that is the importance of career and technical education. We are promoting these good-paying jobs to our students and they can go directly into the workforce after earning a credential here at Lincoln Trail College."
Last year, roughly two-thirds of all Illinois community college graduates earned a CTE degree or certificate. CTE programs offer flexible scheduling, work-based learning, and "stackable" credentials that provide a pathway from education to employment not only for recent high-school graduates, but also for returning adults, veterans, and workers wanting to update their skills.
To ensure that students acquire the skills and knowledge they need to be successful, programs relate instruction to the application of skills in the workplace and offer access to state-of-the-art technology.
Student success in CTE programming is enhanced by academic support services, work-based learning opportunities, and business engagement. The program's influence in Illinois' workforce continues to expand; there are more than 4,200 different CTE program offerings across the community college system.
"Career and technical education programs are at the core of the community college's mission to provide educational opportunities tailored to local business and industry needs," said ICCB executive director Dr. Brian Durham. "These programs lead students into high demand careers in growing fields such as health care or cybersecurity that pay very well."
Todd says one of the ways the college stays up-to-date with providing what businesses and industries need is through the use of advisory councils. They provide the college feedback as to what they need from students. Todd says the college uses that feedback to adjust classes and curriculum.
Many students also take advantage of internships. Todd says that's a great way for students to take what they've learned in the classroom and apply that in the workforce. He says the on-the-job training is an incredibly important part of the education students receive while they're at LTC.
Todd says one of the reasons why students have been so successful is because of the vast amount of industry experience instructors have.
"We have faculty that have been out in the field. They've worked in the industry," he said. "They bring all of this experience into the classroom because we want our students to go into the field prepared and we get great feedback from our industry partners because our students are prepared. I do believe that the experience our faculty brings into the classroom is part of the reason that we've had such success."
Todd says the experience of the instructors combined with the success of many students has given the college a good reputation. For example, the Broadband Telecom program has been used to provide corporate training.
Todd says there's a large need for people with the skills to work in these highly technical fields. He says these are high-paying and gratifying careers.
"One of the reasons I would recommend students to consider career and technical education is because the careers are out there. We have great placement rates," he said. "In one of our programs, we have 100 percent placement of graduates into the workforce upon graduation. These are high-paying positions. They're careers that people may not know about or may not have considered in the past. So, if you're a student that's undecided, but you want an exciting, well-paying career, Lincoln Trail College can help you obtain that goal."
Information for this article was supplied by the Lincoln Trail College public-information office.