Pandemic underscores importance of CTE and trades The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Pandemic underscores importance of CTE and trades

Pandemic underscores importance of CTE and trades

By Chad Wilson, Tribune Guest Writer

Over the next several weeks and months, Arizona’s
business and industry will slowly begin opening their
doors in an effort to return Arizona to a new “normal.”
Although much will be the same, much will also be
Change can be challenging and at times scary, but
the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) is
committed to educating and training high school and
adult learners to help usher in the next chapter of our
state’s economy.
Nearly every occupation that EVIT trains students for
is proving to be essential during this pandemic.
There are the obvious ones on the front lines
battling to save coronavirus patients – nurses, CNAs,
health techs, and first responders.
But there are others too: Mechanics who maintain
the trucks that deliver medical supplies to our hospitals
and food to our grocery stores; construction workers and
welders who are building and repairing makeshift health
facilities; broadcasters and graphic designers who
communicate how to stay safe; and machinists and
manufacturers who are producing thousands of masks
and ventilators.

The skills needed for these jobs come from career
and technical education (CTE).
We also train students for other occupations too
that are suffering right now due to closures –
cosmetology, aesthetics, massage therapy, childcare,
design & merchandising, and culinary arts.
But when America reopens, these will be some of
the first businesses with a high demand from consumers
who want a haircut, a facial, a massage, to put their child
in daycare, to go shopping, to eat in a restaurant again —
and therefore, those businesses will be hiring again.
As tragic as our current reality is, this crisis
reinforces the belief that the professions CTE trains
people to do are the very backbone of our society.
That’s always been the case, but over the years
much has been made of the old either/or college-bound
vs. vocational education mentality.
For too long, educators pushed students into one
lane or the other instead of recognizing the road to
success for every student has multiple lanes.
At EVIT, we have a huge range of students. Some
have enrolled here as an alternative to going to college.
They want to learn skills, earn an industry
certification and go to work after they graduate from
high school. Some of our students struggle to have
enough credits to graduate, while others juggle honors

classes at their high school with attending EVIT for career
Two out of three EVIT students plan to go to college,
many using their training to get jobs to help pay their
There is even more value for all students, regardless
of their education and career goals, to enroll in a CTE
program: They learn to collaborate, problem-solve, and
work as a team – those “soft” skills prized by employers
and desperately needed in a crisis such as we are
experiencing today.
The benefits that CTE offers all kids are too great to
be pigeonholed into stereotypes and old stigmas about
which students should go to college and which ones
should get a job.
The unprecedented times we are living in show just
how vital both pathways are. That’s why EVIT focuses on
changing lives by loving our students and serving our
community – because we recognize that everyone has a
role in the intricate workforce that makes America great.
Dr. Chad Wilson is superintendent of the East Valley
Institute of Technology, a career and technical education
district (CTED) providing career training to high school
students and adults in the East Valley. Information:

Comments are closed.