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CTE and Global Education: The Perfect Marriage

By Kevin Draper — February 24, 2015 4 min read
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As Career and Technical Education (CTE) month comes to a close, I wanted to highlight the natural fit of global competence in CTE programs. Kevin Draper, education program manager at the Columbus Council on World Affairs shares examples from Ohio.

Whether pursuing college or a career, our increasingly interconnected world demands that graduates have the knowledge, skills, and mindset to be globally competitive. The issues of today and tomorrow demand that people work across borders and across cultures to tackle issues such as climate change, food security, poverty, and health. Businesses and industries need leaders who innovate and can address challenging problems.

At Tolles Career and Technical Center (Tolles) and Global Impact STEM (GI STEM) Academy in Central Ohio, students are learning these valuable skills. Through unique career partnerships, competency-based curriculum, and global competency, students are preparing to embrace a bright and successful future.

Local Resources, Global Education
Global is local, and these two schools have used local resources to provide students with a rigorous curriculum and authentic career experiences in which to apply their knowledge. Both Tolles and GI STEM have constructed their curricula to reinforce globally competitive skills, whether students are pursuing a degree in agriscience and biotechnology or the culinary arts.

This does not necessarily mean that students will apply their skills abroad; in fact, most will not. But a deeper understanding of global issues helps to foster partnerships with local Fortune 500 companies operating within both international and domestic markets. For instance, a STEM student at GI STEM can learn how an American project manager working for a Japanese company (Honda) would successfully support an engineering team in Mexico. Or, they could learn how a local company manufacturing fire trucks (Sutphen) navigates logistics to get its products to China.

Whether following traditional or non-traditional pathways, career partnerships help students discover what hard and soft skills they need to be successful in the future. At Nationwide Children’s Hospital, knowing the social nuances necessary to appropriately treat a Somali patient are critical, as Columbus is home to the second largest Somali population in the United States. Such partnerships allow students the opportunity to solve global issues in real, not hypothetical situations.

“A STEM education and STEM careers are extremely important for the U.S. to move forward in this competitive world,” says Jill Pfister, College and Career Pathway Coordinator Consultant at Global Impact STEM Academy. “Global Impact STEM Academy in Springfield, OH has a focus on food, fuel, fiber, and the environment. These go well beyond Ohio and have an impact on every single person in the world. We all need safe food to eat, clean water and air to live, and fuel/energy to improve infrastructure. Understanding global issues, cultures, education, economics, science, and practices to improve plant and animal production will give a student a leg up in seeking jobs that are technical or professional. Also, study abroad experiences push students out of their comfort zone and show them the true necessity for a global education.”

State and Regional Resources

We are fortunate that Ohio is a strong supporter of CTE and career pathways for graduates, and that the state realizes global competence is an integral piece of that work. Many resources are being provided to assist middle and high schools in offering high-quality CTE pathways. But the connection is also being made to the importance of global competitiveness. Currently, the Ohio Department of Education is working to create videos highlighting global careers—those requiring ability in a second language as well as those requiring global competence.

Non-profit community organizations are working to meet the demand for global competence through programs for high school students. One example is the Columbus Council on World Affairs’ Global Scholars Diploma, which is focused on fostering the knowledge, skills, and mindset to be globally competitive. The program leverages community experts, industry leaders, case studies, and blended learning, while bringing together a diverse community of students from around the Columbus Metro area. Both Tolles and GI STEM are participants in the program, given the increasing linkage between CTE and globalization.

George S. Barrett, Chairman and CEO of Cardinal Health in Dublin, Ohio, said, "...Successfully working across borders—both geographical and cultural—is critical to our long-term success. Global fluency is a critical business skill. And the greater our global fluency, the better we are at breaking down barriers and building bridges.”

CTE and global education are a seamless pairing that empowers students to lead and to expand their career opportunities. While many education initiatives require a great deal of effort to fall within an existing curriculum, global education not only complements existing coursework but makes it relevant, rigorous, and engaging.

CTE and STEM demand a greater focus on global competence. Ohio is responding strongly to the call to action.

Follow Kevin, the Columbus Council on World Affairs, and Asia Society on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in Global Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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