Connecting Students and Parents to Career and Technical Education

“Why don’t they bring back shop class?” Educators hear this question all the time because parents (and sometimes students) are not aware of the career and technical education (CTE) classes that schools offer. This gap in awareness can be costly to students and have significant financial implications. Therefore, many schools are looking for strategies to connect students and parents to CTE.

To create stronger connections between students and CTE programs, here are tips for engaging parents and students to help bridge this gap effectively.


Communicate with them in a new way.

Certain best practices for communicating with parents might seem outside the box, but they can reach parents in new ways. Ideas like writing a classroom blog or podcasting might feel like extra work, but compared to the time that it takes to use older strategies, such as creating a newsletter, it might be worth the investment.

Let students do the talking.

There are multiple strategies for engaging parents in CTE opportunities through their students. For starters, schools should consider student-led conferences. These can help students guide their parents through their career-planning process. It should tie into their future goals and plans, as well as the financial reality of those decisions and how their CTE pathway is supporting their plan. Another way to approach this would be to conduct a showcase night for CTE programs that involves presentations from students. This format enables parents to see students in action across all pathways, which broadens their knowledge about the options that students have for their future.

Work through businesses in the industry.

Parents spend a great deal of time at work interacting and conversing with their colleagues. These experiences in the workplace can be another point of engagement. Schools can engage businesses through work-based learning options, such as job shadowing, interning, and worksite tours. School leaders seeing the potential in work-based learning might feel that they need a system of support to help them make it happen. In doing so, parents can witness and hear about the skills that students can bring to the workplace.


Give them the tools that they need to explore careers.

Students don’t know what they don’t know. Too often, their view of the world of work is limited to the jobs of the adults in their lives. Choices360 enables them to connect to their passions and goals, find relevance in their learning, and learn about jobs that they might not have considered before. This awareness is just one strategy for how to connect them (and their parents) to CTE.

Support their scheduling to lead them to a pathway.

Even when students find a passion, create a career plan, and know what CTE pathway they would like to take, finding the right courses can be challenging. A course-planning software like Choices360 helps guide them through their pathway courses. It also takes the mystery out of picking classes for each year of high school. As they participate in the planning process, they will engage each other in their excitement about their classes. Their peers can be more voices in their world to advocate for CTE pathways.

Use social media.

When teachers and school leaders hear about social media, they think of what their generation uses, which data shows is primarily Facebook and Twitter. But to engage students, schools must dive into TikTok and Instagram to meet students where they are at. These platforms are both visual in their content, which lends itself well to the CTE classroom. Teachers can have students highlight their own work or the work of other students to showcase the great things going on in their CTE classrooms and share it for all their peers to see.


These ideas can help schools connect students and parents to CTE—and there is an urgent need to do so. Not only is there a stigma around CTE pathways, but business communities also need skilled tradespeople who can fill upcoming workforce needs. Our future relies on a diverse workforce, filled with people willing to find their passion and turn it into a career, regardless of the pathway to get there.

Here at XAP, we believe that exploration lays the foundation for planning. That’s why we help school and district counseling leaders implement equitable programs and strategies to ensure that students graduate high school not only with a diploma but also with a plan.

To see how we can help you better support your students and drive state, district, and school initiatives with greater ease, transparency, and data, feel free to contact our specialists today!

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