A new educational initiative is linking the Texas Engineering Extension Service with career and technology teachers and the high school students enrolled in these programs.
High school career and technology education programs are a natural match for TEEX training and curriculum materials, but this vast market has been largely untapped, said Dr. Kem Bennett, director of the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).
The most recent example of the new ties to these programs was TEEX sponsorship of the Texas Skills USA Championships in Fort Worth, April 12-15. The event was attended by more than 6,000 high school students from across the state who competed in 51 skills contests, 25 leadership competitions and 51 written technical information tests.
“This is just the first step to make TEEX known to the high schools in Texas and the teachers of career and technology education and school administrators,” said Dr. Ed Cain, TEEX manager of educational initiatives. “This has been good for all involved.”
Connie Little, executive director of the student organization, Texas SkillsUSA-VICA, said, “I see TEEX as the opportunity to bridge the gap between business and industry and the schools. These students are our future, and we’re all going to benefit if we build this bridge.”
“TEEX has never looked at this market, but our training and experience in working with adults and young adults can translate to the high schools,” said Cain, who has served as state adviser for Texas SkillsUSA-VICA and the Texas Industrial Vocational Association for many years. ” It’s a niche that’s well-suited to TEEX. We have expertise that nobody else has. We understand business and industry, and they need entry-level workers. We can serve as the marriage broker between public schools and industry. Everybody will benefit.”
TEEX has always had lifelong career education as its mission, but now that mission can be expanded to include serving as a facilitator between business/industry and the state’s education system, particularly secondary schools, Bennett said.
“This gives TEEX an opportunity to better serve Texas public schools by providing assistance to career and technology teachers and their students,” Bennett added. “We have the technical expertise, the curriculum materials and the links to business and industry they need, as well as the state mandate to do the job.”
During the past two legislative sessions, legislators have paid significant attention to education programs in public schools and post-secondary systems. This is in part a response to concerns of worker shortages in key industries and concerns that students graduating from high school will not have the technical skills to meet the entry-level requirements of high-tech industries already located in the state and those industries the state would like to attract.
“To date, no agency has taken the statewide responsibility of facilitating cooperative partnerships between business/industry and the state’s career and technology-oriented educational programs,” Cain said. “TEEX can serve as the critical linkage between industry and Texas education systems. Feedback from legislators and business and industry representatives about this potential new role for TEEX has been very positive.”
Overview of Educational Initiatives
- TEEX can provide work-relevant curriculum materials and resources to career and technology education programs in the public schools.
- TEEX can provide state-of-the-art occupational skills training for career and technology teachers.
- TEEX can transfer its successful workforce development programs to schools for reintegration of school dropouts or dropout prevention programs.
- TEEX can link business and industry to the schools so they can customize an entry-level workforce to reduce worker shortages in key industries.