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Career and Technical Education



Many students pursue not only a traditional academic course of study in high school, but also targeted study related to a career field. The need for global competence is increasing in all career clusters.

Through career and technical education, students are able to pursue areas of interest, earn technical credentials and licenses, and often earn college credit for much of the advanced coursework. This is no longer vocational education that was considered a pathway for the non-college bound. It is now a cutting-edge program, often linked to state workforce trends and offering post-secondary pathways for students to both colleges and technical training institutes.

Key Concepts and Examples

Some career and technical education programs already offer internationally focused courses, while others could easily be broadened to include a greater global focus.

The sixteen career clusters from The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium are:

Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources

Architecture and Construction

Arts, AV Technology, and Communications

Business Management, and Administration

Education and Training


Government and Public Administration

Health Science

Hospitality and Tourism

Human Services
Information Technology

Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security



Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

Infuse an International Dimension

One way to begin to integrate international content is to mine the existing courses for internationally focused offerings already in place or to seek those programs where an international element could be easily infused. Some schools already offer international finance as part of their business courses or studying global health issues as part of biomedical technology courses within the health science program. Hospitality and tourism requires strong geographic as well as cultural understandings. For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, there was a 53% increase in tourists from mainland China to the United States in 2010. Hotels are already responding with increased training for their employees and hiring more Chinese speakers.

Add Courses Tied to Community Needs

International Culture and Cuisines is a popular elective at many high schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. It is also part of the program of study for students in the Professional Restaurant Management Program. Montgomery County Public Schools also offer electives in international business.

Seattle Public Schools and Seattle Community Colleges have created a pipeline program that give students the technical education needed to work at some of the areas biggest employers, such as multinational corporation Boeing.

Technology Training Applied Worldwide

The Garfield Technology Academy at Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington, has been teaching inner-city youth valuable job skills in computer hardware, software, and networking. The students then take refurbished computers to locations around the world—from Ghana to Russia to the Philippines—and share their newly acquired skills with teachers and students there. In this way, the students are learning technology skills in a global context.

Bilingual Skills Matter

Place interested students proficient in a second language in course-connected work experiences where such a skill is valued. While students may not use their second language on a daily basis, students of other languages will see, hear, and experience applications of that knowledge in various internship placements. These could be arranged as part of a business, marketing, entrepreneur, or family and consumer science course, or through a cooperative or internship placement.

Get Started

There are two practical ways to get started.

The U.S. Department of Education now offers technical expertise and funding to help schools and districts set up coherent sequences of career education courses. A useful resource for further information on career and technical education can be found at States Careers Clusters or through the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Find employers in the community with international connections. What skills are needed most in future employees? Design course offerings around those needs and seek internship connections to enforce the skills learned.