Giving Compass' Take:

• Statewide studies from Vanderbilt University and the University of Connecticut show impressive results about career and technical education and its impact on future careers and academic achievement. 

• How can you support career and technical education pathways in your local school system? 

• Read more about the importance of CTE. 

Enrolling in Connecticut’s technical high school system increases male students’ earnings by roughly one-third in the years immediately following high school, a study has found. Not only do the schools boost young men’s professional prospects, the authors conclude, they have a substantial impact on their academic performance as well, suggesting that their early success could persist well into their careers. Somewhat mysteriously, female students do not realize the same educational or wage benefits.

The impressive returns to technical education may help explain the sustained demand for trade and vocational schools even during a time when the rate of college enrollment for American students is steadily climbing. According to polling, most of the public agrees that apprenticeships and other workforce training programs provide students with the skills to attain a good standard of living, and some evidence indicates that both revenue and enrollment at postsecondary trade schools have risen significantly since the beginning of the Great Recession. At the same time, most states are dealing with a pronounced shortage of CTE instructors in high schools.

The study, conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Connecticut, was circulated last year as a working paper through Brown University’s Annenberg Center. It is a comparatively rare analysis of a statewide career and technical education (CTE) program; much of the existing literature on the subject has focused on individual technical schools or programs.

The study leaves unanswered the question of why men, but not women, enjoy substantial positive effects from career training. Though the researchers offer no explanations, a hint may lie in the varying CTE disciplines preferred by boys versus girls students: Female CTHSS students often selected into programs focused on guest services, early childhood care, and cosmetology, while males favored specialties like plumbing, HVAC, and welding — which could lead them to excel in those highly skilled, and highly compensated, specializations.

Read the full article about career and technical education by Kevin Mahnken at The 74.