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3 Ways to Determine a Community’s Technical Training Needs

Posted by Kenny Colston | March 27, 2018 |Amatrol, Inc.

One of, if not the main purpose, of career and technical education is to help students find rewarding careers while helping fill unmet job needs in a community. As a CTE instructor, you’re the main drivers of bridging this gap.

But how do you find how what jobs you need to train for? Sure, the headlines scream about the latest trends, but do those trends fit your community? You may see an article that talks about a shortage of welders, but a little digging shows your community only has one opening for a welder. Doesn’t make much sense to acquire and train multiple students to be welders under those circumstances.

If you’re unsure of what careers your community has to offer, here’s 3 suggestions to find out:

1 – Compare Job Opportunities on Job Websites

Whether it’s, CareerBuilder or another job website, there’s no better resource about what jobs are out there, right now, in your community. While you may not be training students for immediate openings, most of these websites will allow you to look up jobs by industry. The ones with the most openings are the ones with the most needs and are a pretty good indicator of job growth and job needs in any community.

For example, here’s a recent look at the job needs in Kentucky by career title.

This graph shows that assumptions about what jobs are needed in the community may be misplaced. For example, welders and electricians, while needed, are far below the needs for maintenance technicians. Additionally, it shows how hourly pay for a maintenance technician is at or above other comparable fields. Many job websites will allow you to search one career field at a time, which is how this graph was put together. But they will also let you search by expected salary, which will showcase multiple job fields. This chart is a snapshot of an entire state and the needs in your specific community may vary, which is why local searches are important.

2 – Ask Local Officials

Every community has at least one person or organization working full time on economic development. It may be a local mayor or other elected position, it may be a Chamber of Commerce type of organization. But whoever it is, connecting with them will be a great way to find out about historical trends, future economic development and job openings. You will also be able to get a sense of more than just the instant job openings in your community. For example, here’s a snapshot of employment trends for the Louisville, Ky. Metropolitan area.  Notice the growth spike in the Manufacturing industry since 2014.

3 – Connect with Local Businesses

Do you have one or more significant employers in your area? If so, request a meeting with an executive, manager, or HR representative. Talk to them about what their workforce needs are, where they see their company going and what career needs they anticipate having in 2 to 5 years. If the goal is to train students for rewarding careers, you should connect directly with employers on what they need.

As an instructor, you want students to be successful once they leave your class. Matching up your CTE program with your community’s needs is a great way to do that.

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