Technical programs give students work experience

By Magali Mercado, Staff Writer

The Career Technical Education (CTE) programs can help students find jobs after their time at Contra Costa College.
CTE, which is a national title, is used to describe programs, are normally known as vocational programs, meaning they are quick degree programs that can offer students jobs after they finish the program.
Students can receive an associate degree, certificate of achievement, certificate of accomplishment or associate degree for transfer in 18 programs at CCC.
These programs of study include administration of justice, automotive services, biotechnology, business administration, business office technology, certified nursing assistant, computer and communications technology, computer information systems, computer science, culinary arts, early childhood education, emergency medical services, health and human services, journalism, media digital film production, medical assisting and office technician, nursing, pre-allied health and real estate. Developing a new marketing strategy Kelly R. Schelin, director of economic and workforce development said, “I made the new pamphlet because we needed fresh marketing materials for our CTE programs. The older materials were outdated. This new strategy provides comprehensive inventory of all of the CTE programs on campus. The pamphlet will give students important information concerning types of degrees and certificates that are available and the average hourly wages that they might earn in associated occupations.”
CTE can properly help students prepare for the workforce, Schelin said. She said, “We work with a lot of our employer partners and community partners to find out what skills are most needed for students to be successful when they enter the workforce. We make sure our programs teach those skills.”
A lot of the programs have been offered for years at CCC. Automotive services department professor Peter Lock said the program had been around for over 50 years. Usually if students complete the (automotive services) program and graduate then they are assured a job.
CTE allows students to get hands-on training in these programs. Making their experience more credible. In the early childhood education program, students can work hands on with children. Professor and early childhood education department Chairperson Intisar Shareef said, “We are hands on with our work. The Early Learning Center is our laboratory. We collaborate with the center to make sure we put our theories in practice.”
Each program is different and can benefit students in multiple ways in their future careers.
Biotechnology program coordinator Katherine Krolikowski said, “It (biotechnology program) combines real world training and skills combines with foundations for building skills to become a biology major. It’s a special program because this program leads to a transfer degree. Not all CTE programs do that.”
The business office technology program can help students prepare for all types of office jobs. Computer information systems professor Pamela Rudy said technology is constantly changing and the program can help students learn to work more efficiently in computer office programs like Word and Excel, which she said people will always need to know if they want to work in an office environment.
“Just typing an essay isn’t going to help in the workforce,” Rudy said.
Each program makes sure the curriculum is up to date and is the best options for students.
Schelin said, “Each program has an advisory committee, which is a group of employers who work together with CCC. If an employer says they need a candidate to have a certain skill that we don’t teach, we plan and add those skills and training to the programs. Which is wonderful for our students so they can get jobs.”
Some of the CTE programs are unique in their curriculum and are highly recognized. “We (early childhood education program) are one of the few in schools that has a degree or certificate in Montessori Teacher Education, which is very rare,” Shareef said.
The national association recognizes the program for the Education of Young Children, which is the highest form of recognition. The Early Learning Center is one of their module sites, Shareef said.
CTE programs don’t take long to complete, culinary arts professor Elizabeth Schwarz said.
The culinary arts program normally takes about two to three years to complete. Then students can leave prepared and find a satisfying career.
The amount of time to complete each program varies and depends on the kind of certificate or degree the student wants to achieve. It can take students anywhere from one to two years to complete a program, but more so it depends on how the student works and what they want.
The CTE programs are constantly evolving and adding new certificates to their programs. Many programs are in the works for new certificates and such.
Schelin said, “Programs like the automotive services department has a new hybrid technician certificate. There’s a new emergency medical technician’s achievement certificate. The media digital film program is looking at a gaming certificate as well as a graphic design certificate.”
Students can see the CTE pamphlet and talk to a counselor about the programs and discuss which program would be the best fit for them, Schelin said.
Krolikowski said, “It’s all about helping students finding that first job,” which can be said for all the CTE programs.
CTE is an access for students to find a career; to find job opportunities that students couldn’t get access to before joining the programs, Schelin said.