Featured Image

Transforming the Foundational Frameworks of CTE

As transformational technologies take hold and impact the ways that we manufacture things, and as a Manufacturing Career Cluster Sponsor of SkillsUSA, AMT will continue to advocate for new CTE programs at schools.
Jun 21, 2021

For anyone who has been working in our industry for a few decades, you’re aware that what used to be referred to as “vocational” education has taken on a newer moniker: career and technical education, or CTE. The idea behind this change was to improve the image of vocational education, improve perceptions about it in the minds of the public, and to project a more positive image of working in the skilled trades.


In 1965, the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America Inc. (VICA) was formed as a national organization supporting schools and students who were on a skilled trades track. VICA changed the name of its national championships to SkillsUSA – VICA in 1994 and eventually changed the name of the organization and its national championship to SkillsUSA in 2004 to fully demonstrate the change from vocational education to CTE.

AMT has been a proud supporter of SkillsUSA through our sponsorship and support of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) in conducting the SkillsUSA National Championships for CNC Milling, CNC Turning, and CNC Technician. On May 5-6, 2021, #ConnectToMyFuture and the SkillsUSA National Championships were conducted virtually across all skilled trades where schools were able to compete in their states and regions remotely. As with all things, the pandemic had a negative impact on whether schools and program labs could be open. Fewer students qualified to compete at nationals as a result, but we persevered, and a planned addition of a demonstration of a 5-axis CNC machining competition went forward this spring.

The MT classroom of the future

As transformational technologies take hold and impact the ways that we manufacture things, and as a Manufacturing Career Cluster Sponsor of SkillsUSA, AMT will continue to advocate for new CTE programs at schools. We will focus on career pathways that reflect our view of the manufacturing technology classroom of the future, that can support the next generation of career pathways in emerging technologies, and that can develop into additional national competitions as a way of raising awareness about CTE pathways.

Numbers don’t lie

Our biggest challenge remains in elevating educational programs that fit our industry’s needs with regard to workforce and in changing the way that young individuals and their families think about their education-to-career pathway choices. Even in an environment where $1.5 trillion in student loan debt exists, many feel that a degree from a four-year college presents the best, most viable education option, but the data does not support that premise. Typically, less than 50% of college graduates end up working in their major of study, and many college grads are underemployed.

In 2020, 62.7% of 2020 high school graduates ages 16-24 were enrolled in colleges or universities, down from 66.2% in the prior year. Among 20-29-year-olds who received a bachelor’s degree in 2020, 67.3% were employed, down from 76.0% in 2019. These changes reflect the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, and the data is too recent to understand what other options these individuals have chosen.

Resolving the skills gap

For our industry to be able to resolve the persistent skills gap that we’ve been challenged by for decades now, we must continue to advocate at the national level and in our local communities for CTE programs, industry-recognized standards and credentials, and rid any remaining negative stigmas that exist around CTE education-to-career pathways to our industry.

AMT’s forthcoming Manufacturing Mandate 3.0 will outline our recommendations with regard to Smartforce Development, which will include strategies for creating a new framework for CTE that keeps pace with U.S. manufacturing.

For more information, please contact gjones@AMTonline.org, and for more timely updates, follow @GregoryAJones Find our social media at @IMTS_Smartforce on Twitter and Instagram or on Facebook at facebook.com/IMTS.Smartforce.

Greg Jones
Vice President, Smartforce Development
Recent smartforce News
The MFG Meeting provided nearly 400 attendees with actionable insights on economic political, demographic, social, educational, and technological issues, while social and networking events promoted collaboration.
Organized. Fun. Lit. Generous. Sleek. These are some of the words students and teachers used to describe United Grinding’s open house tour of its high-tech industrial facility in Miamisburg, Ohio.
Thousands of students will convene to explore the digital technologies underpinning manufacturing, space exploration, and more.
A working model for IT advisory councils has been developed that can easily be adopted to manufacturing: The Business and Industry Leadership Teams initiative prescribes seven common-sense tactics for a successful partnership between industry and academia.
When a group of Minneapolis-area manufacturers couldn’t find qualified CNC service techs, they took matters into their own hands and helped develop a new two-year degree program at Anoka Technical College. Learn more.
Similar News
By Peter Zelinski | May 01, 2024

Formnext Chicago arrives next year. AMT's Doug Woods, Mesago's Sascha Wenzler, and Gardner's Peter Zelinski discuss the long road to this event, the importance of Formnext coming to additive's biggest market, and the competitive 2025 event landscape.

7 min
By Kathy Keyes Webster | May 14, 2024

Through his immense contributions to the manufacturing industry — and the people leading it — Ralph H. Hegman becomes the 11th winner of this prestigious award.

7 min
By Christopher Chidzik | May 13, 2024

Orders of manufacturing technology, measured by the U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report published by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, reached $435.7 million in March 2024. Orders grew nearly 25% above the February 2024 level.

5 min