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Jun 08, 2016 08:21 AM EDT

An Attractive Alternative: More Students Choosing Career And Technical Education

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BALTIMORE - More students are choosing career and technical education as a favorite alternative over a regular, four-year college course, panelists who joined the US News STEM Solutions Conference's "21st-Century Skills Training: The Value of Career and Technical Education" forum in May 20 said. 

According to panel moderator Michael D. Thomas, the increasing number of students choosing to take career and technical education means their drive to bring emphasis towards courses in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) is bearing fruit.

"It shows the relevancy of this STEM work that we are all engaged in, but more importantly, we are really, truly preparing our students, as we say we are, for the 21st century," US News quoted Thomas, the interim chief of staff for Baltimore City Schools, as saying.

Thomas also revealed that students in Baltimore who opted to go with career and technical education have a higher high school graduation rate than those who didn't.

Vince Bertram, a panelist in the forum and the president and chief executive officer of Project Lead The Way, agreed with Thomas. He said the country right now needs to focus on creating a skilled workforce that is relevant and ready to work in its most vital sectors.

Ronald J. Daniels, president of John Hopkins University (JHU) and also a forum panelist, said schools should start preparing students as early as possible for STEM education. This would enable them to cope with career and technical education courses in higher education.

According to Daniels, the shift from traditional to alternative education must be met with the corresponding changes in the educational system. He hopes this should start during early education, JHU's Hub reported.

"This is a national imperative, and you've got to start early and hope you can create a demand on the part of students and their parents," he said.  

Other panelists included SkillsUSA Executive Director Timothy W. Lawrence and Indianapolis' Ivy Tech Community College President Thomas J. Snyder.

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