CAREER &TECHNICALEDUCATION (CTE)WHAT IS CTE?Career and Technical Education (CTE) prepares students to enter the workforce or pursuepost-secondary education or training after high school. Components of CTE can includework-based learning such as internships or apprenticeships, project-based or hands-onlearning, and general workplace skills. Some CTE programs enable students to graduatefrom high school with industry-recognized certifications. During the 2017-18 school year,over 8.8 million high school students took at least one CTE course.1Over the last decade, there have been efforts to make CTE programs more rigorous andresponsive to education and labor market trends. As more industries require post-secondarytraining of some kind, new CTE programs have started to adapt by preparing students tocomplete post-secondary training or education in emerging fields.CONNECTION TO CLIMATE CHANGECTE is an opportunity to prepare studentsfor industries and careers that will becomeincreasingly important to society. The demandfor renewable energy and green technology hasbeen growing in recent years and will continueto expand. By the end of 2019, there were over3.3 million Americans working in clean energy,accounting for over 40% of the energy workforceand 2.25% of overall employment.2 Jobs in solarenergy and wind turbines have been predicted tobe the fastest growing occupations over the nextdecade and may be able to play an important rolein the country’s economic recovery.3Photo by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.A variety of industries including architecture,agriculture, and energy are making efforts tobecome more sustainable and lessen theirenvironmental impact. Giving students theknowledge and skills to think about and solveproblems with sustainability in mind is valuableto employers. A recent report from Pew ResearchCenter found both mechanical and analytical skillsare in high demand in emerging occupations relatedto the green economy.4
Green CTE Across StatesMost states have adopted the Career Clustersframework from Advance CTE.5 The frameworkfeatures 16 broad career clusters and 79 morespecific career pathways. There are some variationsby state, which can allow states to be responsiveto their own labor and industry needs. While statepolicies and programs can heavily influence CTEoptions, they do not solely determine which, if any,CTE programs are offered in a given school or district.TERMINOLOGY Career cluster: Category of relatedcareer paths (e.g. agricultural and naturalresources, STEM)Pathway: Program designed to preparestudents for a certain industry (e.g.environmental service systems, energy)Program of study: Progression of classesa student takes to complete CTE programGenerally, state education agencies have approvedoptions for programs and courses that districts andschools can adopt at the local level depending on theirinterest and capacity. As a result, the state educationagency may support or approve programs that arenot currently implemented at the local level withinthe state. There may also be schools or districts thatPhoto by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.provide CTE opportunities related to green careersor renewable energy that are not reflected in stateframeworks or options. This analysis does not capturestates that have schools or districts with their ownlocal programs or partnerships in place.Twenty-nine states have at least one of thefollowing in their CTE program offerings: An explicit focus on sustainability or clean energyin pathway optionsA certification program in renewable or alternativeenergy industriesAt least one course specifically about renewableor alternative energy or that includes renewableor alternative energy in course standardsMost states with programs or classes that focus onclean energy do so through an engineering lens or inthe context of an environmental services or agriculturalpathway. Many states also have pathways that focuson natural resources without an explicit emphasis onsustainability or green technology. Often programs thathave a class on renewable energy also have classes onnonrenewable energy—while the inclusion of classeson green energy is promising, it does not mean thatis the sole focus of a program. Agricultural programsoften mention sustainable practices but do not includethis as a clear focus of a program or course.
Promising InitiativesAt least two states (MD, ND) offer green pathwaysor courses through Project Lead the Way (PLTW).As a non-profit, PLTW provides curricula and teachertraining for hands-on STEM learning from PreK-12.Their high school programs for computer science,engineering, and biomedical science are designed toprepare students for both college and career. PLTWhas an environmental sustainability course withintheir high school engineering program.6At least four states (AL, NM, NC, SC) have a cleanenergy CTE program through the Southern RegionalEducation Board (SREB), a non-profit with 16 memberstates. The organization’s Advanced Career programsprepare high school students for STEM careers, withClean Energy Technology as one of nine pathways.7,8Reviewed by Shaun Dougherty, Associate Professor,Peabody College, Vanderbilt UniversityPhotos by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.DISTRICT BRIGHT SPOTThe NYC Solar Schools EducationProgram is a cross-sector collaborationcreated to engage students in theprocess of installing solar panels onpublic schools in the city.9 Throughthe non-profit Solar One, the SolarCTE program provides a short-termopportunity for students at technicalhigh schools to learn about solarenergy, installation, and careers.10The program is integrated into existingCTE programs and includes supplies,professional development for teachers,two weeks of co-teaching, and accessto a solar careers expo.
DO STATE CTE PATHWAYS ORPROGRAMS OF STUDY INCLUDEGREEN CAREERS?YESAlabamaNO Nebraska Alaska Nevada Arizona New Hampshire Arkansas New Jersey California New MexicoColorado New YorkConnecticut North Carolina Delaware North Dakota DC Ohio Florida OklahomaGeorgia OregonHawaii *Pennsylvania ** Idaho Puerto RicoIllinois Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Indiana IowaKansas Kentucky TexasLouisiana Utah Maine Vermont Maryland Virginia Massachusetts *Washington *West Virginia MichiganMinnesota Wisconsin Mississippi WyomingMissouri TOTALMontana PERCENT* 292257%43%Some indication of pathway or program but limited information available** OK has wind turbine technician program but limited informationon whether program is in schools or separate “training centers”Note: Percentages are out of 51 (includes DC)
Photo by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.References1.CTE Participant Enrollment Data, Perkins Data Explorer, Carl D. PerkinsCareer and Technical Education Act of 2006, Accessed August 25, articipant.2. E2, “Clean Jobs America: Repowering America’s Economy in the Wake ofCOVID-19,” April 2020, -Jobs-America-2020.pdf3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Fastest Growing Occupations,”2019, Accessed August 25, 2020. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/fastest-growing.htm.4. Rakesh Kochhar, “New, emerging jobs and the green economy areboosting demand for analytics skills,” Pew Research Center, March 23,2020, ew emand-for analytical-skills/5. Advance CTE, “Career Clusters,” Career Tech, Accessed August 25,2020, https://careertech.org/career-clusters6. Project Lead The Way, “PLTW Engineering (9-12),” AccessedAugust 25, 2020, -curriculum#curriculum-97.“Southern Regional Education Board, Advanced Career,” AccessedAugust 25, 2020, https://www.sreb.org/advanced-career-08. Southern Regional Education Board, “Clean Energy TechnologyCurriculum,” May 2014, ents/ac clean energy tech r 5 2 14.pdf?14599639269. “Case Study: New York City Solar Schools Education Program,” BeExchange, May 2019, /BEEx SolarEdProgram CaseStudy 190604.pdf10. Green Design Lab, “NYC Solar CTE Program,” Accessed August 25,2020, m/www.K12ClimateAction.org
Most states have adopted the Career Clusters framework from Advance CTE. 5 The framework features 16 broad career clusters and 79 more specific career pathways. There are some variations by state, which can allow states to be responsive to their own labor and industry needs. Wh