drone certificationState CTE director visits Copper Country | News, Sports, Jobs

October 10, 2021by helo-10

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Brian Pyles, director of the Michigan Department of Education – Office of Career and Technical Education, talks during the Keweenaw Alliance Breakfast Wednesday morning.

HOUGHTON — Michigan’s top career and technical education official touted the benefits of CTE-trained students to business leaders during his visit to the Copper Country Wednesday.

Brian Pyles, director for the Michigan Department of Education’s CTE office, spoke at the Keweenaw Alliance Breakfast.

About half a dozen communities have passed CTE millages in the past seven years, including the Copper Country Intermediate School District. Since the CCISD’s millage passed five years ago, it has gone from three state-approved CTE programs to 12.

“I’m personally so excited that our communities are engaging and valuing career and technical education just like you have,” Pyles said.

CTE programs build students’ confidence and improve their performance, Pyles said. Students in CTE programs have a 97% graduation rate in Michigan, compared to an 83% statewide rate.

“It gives that young person their high school diploma, and then a certificate that says ‘I’m really good at welding, I can be a phlebotomist, I can be a business leader,’” he said. “It gives them one more piece of value to themselves that students who aren’t in CTE don’t have.”

Pyles encouraged local employers to embrace the industry-recognized certifications for students who complete an exam by a third party demonstrating their readiness for the job. Under the most recent reauthorization of the Carl Perkins Act, which governs federal funding for CTE programs, they must end with an industry certification or a postsecondary credential.

“If they have this industry-recognized credential … you know that students who come to you have that skill set, and it reduces some of your training time,” he said.

Having a recognized credential as a prerequisite will also help companies recruit from a wider geographic area.

“It gives you an opportunity to reach outside of the Upper Peninsula and look at other areas and say, ‘If you have this credential, you can come here and work for this amount of money, and by the way, this is our cost of living,’” he said.

This fall will see the debut of a drone certification, starting in aeronautics. It will also be broadened to CTE areas such as public safety and agriscience, Pyles said.

For next year, the state has gotten conditional approval to add credentials in areas such as computer programming, cybersecurity, finance and welding.

Workplace learning programs help students learn not just skills in their area of interest, but behavioral skills and how to interact with adults, Pyles said. He recalled working in landscape greenhouse management as a 16-year-old, and learning how to work with residential owners to provide landscape services as an independent contractor.

“Those are pretty incredible skills for a 16-year-old,” he said. “Our CTE instructors, working with our students in work-based learning, and all of you who welcome them into your businesses, make a huge difference in their lives.”

The programs can help students learn what the careers are they want. Crucially, they also let students know when a career is not right before they start racking up student debt.

Getting trained in health science gives students chances to faint at every stage of life, from live births to surgeries to autopsies. (A pro tip Pyles has learned from health workers: eating breakfast first helps avoid lightheadedness.)

“Most of us would find that an unpleasant experience, but if you think you really want to do it, why don’t you do it when you’re 16 and figure out if you have the stomach for it?” Pyles said.

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