New Research Shows That SkillsUSA Participation Makes a Difference in CTE Student Outcomes

Published: October 02, 2015

SkillsUSA Members Have Higher GPA, More Exposure to Potential Employers and Are Better Prepared for Workforce or Continued Education 

Leesburg, Va.SkillsUSA participation is cited prominently as a positive factor for career and technical students in a new research study. SkillsUSA and the Manufacturing Institute partnered with Educational Research Center of America (ERCA) on the survey. The purpose of the survey is to inspire dialogue between parents, educators, counselors and students, with the goal of aligning programs and services with student needs to better prepare them for careers ahead. The study provides insight into both student and instructor views on the value of career and technical education (CTE) preparation and participation in a career and technical student organization (CTSO) as influencers on career choices. The study found that 63 percent of SkillsUSA members surveyed feel that being part of the student organization has had a significant impact on their career outlook. When considering what career field to pursue, 43 percent of all CTE students indicate they plan to pursue a career in their current field of study. However, for students that participate in CTSOs, 55 percent plan to pursue a career in their field of study. In comparison, only 37 percent of CTE students not participating in CTSO activities will pursue a career in their field of study. When asked if participation in CTE improved their grade point average, 70 percent of SkillsUSA members say this statement is true. Further, 64 percent of all CTSO members feel that involvement in an organization enhanced their GPA. Less than half of non-CTSO members (48 percent) feel that enrollment in CTE improved their grade point average. A similar pattern was seen in response to a question about clarity of a future career path due to CTE. While 67 percent of SkillsUSA students believe that their career path is clearer due to enrollment in CTE, only 40 percent of non-CTSO students believe that to be the case. Nearly twice as many SkillsUSA members as compared to non-CTE students have been exposed to potential future employers through career opportunities such as site visits (25 percent of SkillsUSA members), career fairs (24 percent), guest lectures (43 percent), competitions (31percent) and job shadowing (21 percent) and mentoring (10 percent). Fewer than 20 percent of all CTE students say they have participated in summer jobs, site visits or job shadowing, and fewer than 10 percent have completed an internship, co-op study program or had an industry mentor. This last figure is troublesome because the 2015 Public Perception of Manufacturing Report found that internships and work-study programs are one of the best ways to increase interest in manufacturing. While students are learning valuable workplace skills in CTE programs, many jobs in today’s economy require credentials beyond a high school diploma. This study asked teachers whether today’s CTE classes prepare students for both the workforce and postsecondary education. Nearly 80 percent of them report that it does. Only 13 percent feel today’s CTE only prepares students only for the workforce. And, 64 percent of educators believe that following the high school diploma, an industry certificate was the most useful credential for students beginning their careers (rated higher than an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree). The majority of instructors surveyed (60 percent) rate themselves as extremely knowledgeable about CTE options. “It’s wonderful to see our program validated through this research, and it makes a strong statement about our students’ capabilities and aspirations,” said SkillsUSA’s executive director, Tim Lawrence. The survey was conduced between March and May 2015, in the classroom with students and teachers. In total, 23,086 high-school students and 747 high-school teachers responded. Participating students were enrolled in a CTE program of study. Another wave of surveys will be collected through December. To read the report, go to:

About SkillsUSA

SkillsUSA is a nonprofit association that helps career and technical education students follow their passions to their ultimate careers. As a nationwide partnership of education and industry, SkillsUSA works to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It helps every student excel. The nationwide career and technical education student organization serves more than 320,000 high school, college and postsecondary students and instructors each year in trade, technical and skilled service occupation instructional programs. Technical skills complemented by leadership and employability skills training make SkillsUSA students career-ready, productive and promotable. In this way, SkillsUSA is one of the answers to the growing “skills gap” that threatens our nation. Among our SkillsUSA members, thousands are studying for manufacturing careers. Many more are studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), which often lead to careers in the manufacturing sector. SkillsUSA enjoys the support of more than 600 corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions. Over 11.9 million people have been members of SkillsUSA since its founding in 1965. For more information, go to:

About The Manufacturing Institute

The Manufacturing Institute is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. As a non-partisan organization, the Institute is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation’s manufacturers. The Institute is the authority on the attraction, qualification and development of world-class manufacturing talent. For more information:  

About ERCA

Educational Research Center of America (ERCA) is a not-for-profit research organization committed to helping high school students and their families consider all of their future options, including community colleges, four-year institutions, vocational opportunities, and career choices. For more information:  

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