Two local counties—Kalamazoo and St. Joseph—will be seeking tax dollars to fund an expansion of career and technical education during the Tuesday, November 5 election. This comes at a time when existing regional employers of all sizes face a workforce skills gap and companies are desperately searching across America for new locations where pools of available talent are ready to go to work.
K-12 students who take advantage of career and technical education programs in management, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, and health sciences can find themselves viewed as valuable commodities when entering the workforce after graduation. Experience gained during the K-12 years can put them a step ahead as they pursue professional certificates, one-year or two-year degrees ,or bachelor’s degrees or higher. Career and Technical Education programs are academically rigorous, aligned to the needs of business and industry, and vital to the preparation of student for success for both careers and college. With studies showing that out of every 10 jobs, one requires a master’s degree, two a bachelor’s degree and seven a professional/skilled trades certificate or two-year degree, career and technical education adds up to future economic growth.
So, what do the career and technical education millages really mean to voters?
- By voting yes in Kalamazoo County, voters would help Kalamazoo RESA expand offerings and expose more K-12 students to careers, setting them up for continued growth. Centralized training facilities would mean no more planes, trains and automobiles to get to class for 14-to-18-year-olds. The cost to the average home owner would be about $75 per year, with significant help provided by private donors.
- If approved, a St. Joseph County request would provide funding to enhance and restore programs such as Career Prep and Work-Based Learning (Co-op), as well as add more career and technical class options while making career and technical education more sustainable in the future.