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By Rebecca B. Evers, Ed.D.
Typically career exploratory classes are offered during the middle school years as training experiences designed to assist students in making career decisions. Students sample occupations by rotating though several classes, usually during seventh and/or eight grade, in order to determine their suitability or preference for a particular job. At the end of the exploratory classes, students may elect to take classes at the high school level in one of the seven major occupational areas listed below, defined by the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), a professional organization of teachers in career and technical programs.
When your teen who's participated in career and occupational programs makes the transition from high school, he has a number of options. He can select to enter the workforce in a variety of entry-level positions, or he may enter a two- or four-year post-secondary technical institution, or a four-year college.
In addition to the classroom experiences offered in these education programs, opportunities for learning and training also can occur in business, industrial, or labor settings. The "labor" category includes such occupations as retail sales and entry-level factory work, as well as skilled trades such as carpentry, pipe fitting, and masonry. These experiences are provided by the high school through cooperative education or work experience programs. Most programs offer students both in-school and on-the-job training for high school credits. A high school teacher who is trained to work in these programs selects and develops job sites in the community. Local businesses commit to providing on-the-job training for a student who is ready to go to work in the community while still in high school. This teacher coordinates services between the school and the community, providing site supervision and, when required, job coaching for the student worker.
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