WACO, TX — The Killeen School board recently passed a resolution honoring Career and Technical Education month, something that got us wondering about the impact of the new focus on CTE that started several years
ago, as it emerged from what we used to know as vocational-technical education.
Many of these good paying jobs get passed down through families, but you don't necessary need to have a family member in the business, to get a foot in the door.
As kids, who among us didn't like to dig and play in the dirt?
Tyler Snyder found a job that lets him to that, and a lot more.
"What's the most fun thing? Digging,yeah I like to dig. apparently so. It has its ups and downs but I like it," explained Tyler.
He's learning the ropes of plumbing from his grandfather.
"As a craftsman we need to pass the torch on to the younger generation. It is just so proud of my grandson following in my footsteps to do what I do for a living," said Master Plumber Harold Snyder.
"Well, I started helping my grandpa when I was about 10 crawling under houses pulling tools back and forth. And then the summer between my junior and senior year I worked at a plumbing company and I just I kind of liked it fell in love with it," added Tyler.
More folks have begun to recognize the importance of what we used to call the "trades", jobs like construction, welding and yes, plumbing.
"Jobs of generations" are making a comeback, even when there's nobody in a family to pass down those skills, thanks to a new focus on the issue from public schools. They call the curriculum CTE. So, what's CTE? It's career and Technical education, what we used to call Vocational-Technical Training.
About 12 and half million students around the country take CTE Courses, about 1.2 million of them, in Texas.
About 850 thousand have made CTE their major course of study.
"Once those kids get into eighth grade, they're choosing their career pathway for high school," said Norris Sebastian, of Del Valle High School.
"It's almost like these students are choosing a major in high school when they can they kind of get to feel it out before they try those things on in college," explained Magan Escamilla, an Agricultural Sciences Instructor.
"The more they can taste and no pun intended but the more they can sample and learn about the better choices they're gonna make as they can towards graduation," said Gail Calder, Culinary Arts Instructor.
" These are skills for life, you know, just, you know, getting a job being a successful achieving empowered individual," said Amanda Cortez, a Health Sciences Instructor.
Harold Snyder says the job has sure motivated and empowered his grandson.
"And once he started doing this he saw what kinda money he was makin' and now he just loves it," said the Master Plumber.
"And you always think there's always going to be a need for plumbers software here to be a pretty good career path Job security. Yeah, there you go," said Tyler .
Job security that we'll always need Tyler Snyder and folks like him digging around... doing what they love....in a job that benefits all of us.
He has what you might call a "Job of Generations". He's been learning the ropes of the plumbing trade from his grandfather, who in turn, learned plumbing from his uncle.
"I'm real thankful for it because I get a nice little footprint into the industry. helps me learn a lot about plumbing," said Tyler.
Tyler's Grandad says the trade he learned from his uncle, gave him a pathway to success, that didn't require him to go to college.
"There's only so many upper echelon college jobs available. And just because you go to college spend a lot of money to be educated, doesn't mean you're going to work in a field you're educated in, or make a lot of money," said Harold.
It's true. Folks who learn a trade tend to make more money, sooner, than folks in so- called professions.
Experts estimate some 30 million trade jobs pay 55 thousand dollars a year or more.
Learning a trade also helps more students stay in school. A 2006 Gates foundation study found 81 percent of dropouts would stay if offered "real world" learning.
In 2009, Texas found it could cut its overall dropout rate of 3 percent in half, by offering relevant CTE Classes.
"The mission of Texas CTE is to provide students with opportunities so they can explore their passions to find out what they like what they're good at as they explore you know meaningful careers, hopefully that are high skill, high wage or high demand," explained Diane Salazar, Director of Texas CTE.
Texas has a list of more than a dozen jobs it identifies as the fastest-growing..... all have growth rates of 30 to 60 percent or more and pay 40 to 60 grand a year.
It's why public schools and many colleges offer specialized training.
Texas offers 16 Career Clusters, more thhan 120 programs of study and nearly 80 career pathways.
Tyler says he's lucky to have a great teacher like his grandpa.
"What's the hardest thing about learning?
The hardest thing about learning finding someone who can teach you," he says.
So CTE can help other "Tylers"without the family ties, get a foot in the door.
In the ten years the Killeen School District has operated its career center, its welding program has used nearly 23-thousand pounds of welding rods, It's Plebotomy program has drawn blood more than 7 thousand times and its Audio/visual program has produced 20 Terabytes of footage.
Harold Snyder says he takes pride in helping build Waco and Central Texas.
One of the snyder’s most challenging jobs? A south waco carwash at Speight and New Roads. Why? Most of the plumbing got encased in concrete, making the work more exacting than usual.
"I love the fact that people use what I do every day and I can drive around and see what I did and just shuffling paperwork or stocking shelves you really can't see but you did. I can drive around Waco, Texas for after buildings without but I've worked on for years at a time," said Harold.
It's why Tyler looks forward to passing down his skills to the next generation.
"Well, my family will always have a skill that keeps going through the family. So if nothing works out to always have a draw back. You're going to teach your kids to do this" if they want to... one day...yup."
Helping build Texas for years to come.