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    Career and technical training give students a competitive edge

    In a few weeks, high school students around the U.S. will close one chapter of their lives and enter another as they graduate and move on to continue their education or enter the workforce.

    Approximately 90 percent of students who spent their high school years participating in career and technical education (CTE) courses will graduate, a significantly higher rate than those who do not participate in CTE classes. CTE students are also more engaged. Eighty-one percent of high school dropouts say relevant, real-world learning opportunities would have kept them in high school, according to the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE).

    Many CTE programs partner with colleges, universities and employers to offer course credit and on-the-job training. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) ProStart program recently announced its 2014 National ProStart Collegiate Passport. More than 60 colleges and universities nationwide offer ProStart students course credit and scholarships for completing the two-year program, which prepares students for foodservice industry careers. To receive the industry-recognized ProStart National Certificate of Achievement, students must pass two national exams and work 400 mentored hours.

    “Eighty-one percent of students who receive the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement are still working in the industry five years later, a testament to the strength of ProStart and our students, who are heavily recruited by post-secondary schools for their skills,” says Rob Gifford, executive vice president, strategic operations and philanthropy for the National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

    “Graduates have proven to have a comprehensive knowledge of culinary and management basics as they begin our programs,” says Terri Ann Parks, director of regional recruitment for The Culinary Institute of America. “Our partnership with ProStart has allowed us to bring some of the best and brightest culinary students to our college nationwide.”

    Post-secondary career and technical education addresses the needs of high-growth industries like health care and foodservice. Health care occupations make up 12 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations while the National Restaurant Association predicts that total restaurant and foodservice employment will grow by 11 percent over the next 10 years.

    Students who took postsecondary CTE courses earned a higher salary than high school graduates who did not take CTE courses, according to a National Assessment of Vocational Education report. A graduate with a CTE-related associate degree or credential typically earns an average of $ 4,000 to nearly $ 20,000 more annually than a person with an associate’s degree in humanities.

    Even if students don’t immediately decide to participate in CTE coursework in college, they have the option to engage in CTE later in life to transition into a new career.

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