International Opinion

Preparing Students for Careers in the Global Economy

By Heather Singmaster — January 06, 2016 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Today I am joined by Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Associate Executive Director, NASDCTEc; Steve DeWitt, Deputy Executive Director, ACTE; and Jennifer Manise, Executive Director, Longview Foundation. We worked together on a new white paper to make the case that high-quality career and technical education must include global perspectives and issues.

Share your thought on this important topic! Join ACTE, Asia Society, Longview Foundation, and NASDCTEc for special #GlobalEdChat on Twitter on Thursday, January 7 at 8pm Eastern time as well as an interactive webinar on January 13, 2016 at 3:00pm.

One in ten Americans is foreign born, and local communities—urban, suburban, and rural—are growing more diverse. To take advantage of global market opportunities, companies must hire workers with global competence—that is, the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance. U.S. educators face a critical new imperative: to prepare all students for work and civic roles in an environment where success increasingly requires the ability to compete, connect, and cooperate on an international scale.

Integrating Global Skills into CTE
One promising way in which students can learn about and apply global competencies is through Career and Technical Education (CTE). With an anchor in preparing students for the careers of their choice and a focus on the critical academic, technical, and employability skills needed for success, CTE offers a natural platform on which to build global competencies. Globally minded CTE programs provide the rigorous and authentic setting necessary to prepare students for the competitive world economy, while offering a more engaging, motivating, and relevant education experience.

While the integration of global content into all K-12 schools and courses is still emerging, there are bright spots, including some CTE programs already making connections between their local and the greater global economy. A new paper by the Association for Career and Technical Education, Asia Society, Longview Foundation, and National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium entitled, Preparing a Globally Competent Workforce through High-Quality Career and Technical Education, offers insight into how educators can embed global competency into their CTE classrooms and how this effort can be incentivized by defining the need for global competency.

Integration in Action
So what does this integration look like in practice? One globally minded CTE program highlighted in the paper is the Global STEM Education Center, which connects classrooms in Massachusetts with classrooms around the world. These are not superficial connections, however: Students together with their international partners conceptualize, design, and complete in-depth research and hands-on projects. The Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Upton, Massachusetts decided to offer the Global STEM Classroom program to their electrical, plumbing, and culinary students, an unusual decision. It was a decision that paid off as students are emerging confident and better able to communicate and work with others—skills that will help them get good co-op placements and work directly with future customers, whether they share the same culture or not.

Realizing that health is impacted by the global environment and that health care workers must be able to work within the growing diversity of our communities, Health Sciences and Human Services High School in the High Line School District, Washington, requires a semester of Global Health for all freshmen. Students are given case studies and real-world problems, and work together to evaluate the case, solve problems, and advocate for many issues. According to the teacher, Jordyn Wilson, “Global Health really opens up the students’ minds to what is going on in health not only in our community, but around the world. It is difficult for them to shift their thinking away from themselves and toward others, but they now think of health in a new way.” Coursework like this, designed to connect students through research, projects, and presentations, is one way global can be integrated to support CTE curriculum goals and advance knowledge of career pathways.

We live in a time where there is growing diversity within our borders, where we must face huge global challenges, and when the majority of the world’s purchasing power and 95 percent of consumers lie outside of U.S. borders. This interconnected world means that we have an obligation to provide our CTE students with access to a global education. Achieving this will lead to greater engagement and achievement of students as well as provide a pipeline of workers and lifelong learners who will be able to engage globally and grow the American economy.

Connect with ACTE, Asia Society, Longview Foundation, and NASDCTEc 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.