Oakland Schools, districts tout success during CTE Month


Photo by Derek Cookson for Oakland Schools.

Career Technical Education (CTE) Month takes place in February to recognize the value and achievements of CTE programming which is focused on preparing county high school students for high-wage, high-demand careers.

The Michigan Talent Investment Agency created a campaign called “Going PRO” to elevate the perception of professional trades and help meet the need of 15,000 new job openings that are projected annually in technical occupations through 2024, accounting for 500,000 total jobs. There is a pressing need for skilled workers in many industries, and particularly within information technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, construction and automotive.

According to the Michigan Career and Technical Education Information System, 2016-2017 CTE data shows 16,899 students participated in 291 state-approved Career and Technical Education programs across Oakland County. In 2017, there were 109,005 students enrolled in at least one CTE course within their high school day throughout the state. Further, the Michigan Department of Education states that, in Michigan, CTE enrollment is up 5 percent since 2015.

CTE programming ranges across 16 career clusters and includes multiple pathway options, such as Computer Programming, Engineering Technology, Business Administration, Automotive Technology, Health Sciences, Construction Trades, Machining and Graphic Design, etc.

So, how are local students learning about these in-demand jobs? How are they being prepared for future opportunities?

In Oakland County, CTE classes are offered within many of our school districts and all districts have the ability to send students to any of Oakland Schools’ four Technical Campuses (OSTC). There is one of these campuses in each region of the county: OSTC-Southeast (Royal Oak), OSTC-NW (Clarkston), OSTC-SW (Wixom) and OSTC-NE (Pontiac).

Did you know last school year…

  • 2,669 OSTC students participated in 64 state-approved CTE programs provided through Oakland Schools?
  • 96 percent were working on continuing their education past high school.
  • our campuses were responsible for 321 paid field experiences and unpaid on-the-job placements.

As the official Career Technical Education Month wraps up, there are just a few other CTE highlights from both Oakland Schools OSTCs and other district programs around Oakland County.


  • Two students won a combined $7,500 in scholarships awarded by the Oakland Schools Education Foundation for their work in Health Sciences.


  • Recently two students applied for entry-level jobs involving basic office skills. When interviewed, in both cases, the employer asked how well they knew Word. Both students indicated they were Microsoft certified in Word and were able to provide the certifications, which were in their portfolios. Both were hired on the spot!


  • Eighth graders from the district were taken to view CTE classes at local high schools in action. The tours gave students a unique opportunity to see the hands-on and technical learning that takes place in our classrooms and labs and to see the state-of-the-art equipment that facilitates the learning.

Lake Orion

  • 25 Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) members from Lake Orion High School will compete at the DECA State Career Development Conference in March for the title of best in the state against 3,500 high school members.
  • Students in the Engineering program are currently interning and working with many companies, such as GM, Kostal International, Esys Automation, Delphi, FCA and Inalfa Roof Systems.
  • Computer Applications students have earned 150 Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications (in Word, Excel and PowerPoint), since the beginning of the school year, which will lead to careers in a variety of computer-related fields.


  • Novi High School marketing students are participating in a competition called “Seal the Deal”created by The Big Salad founder, John Bornoty, and Novi owner, Chris Pike. Students will create a product and a marketing campaign to pitch to customers. The team that sells the most has their item on the menu for a limited time.

Oakland Schools Technical Campuses (OSTC)

  • This month, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) brought their State of Manufacturing Tour to the Oakland Schools Technical Campus – Northeast. The students and staff there were happy to offer attendees, who included Gov. Rick Snyder, a chance to explore their campus with the goal of raising awareness of what CTE programming OS offers. One of Northeast’s teachers, Demetrius Wilson, even wrote a blog about preparing students for the county’s manufacturing industry that was featured on NAM’s website.
  • A total of $50,000 in scholarships were given to 26 OSTC students through Oakland Schools’ Scholarships for Success to provide them with financial assistance to attend college, trade school or an apprenticeship program.
  • Oakland County Executive L.Brooks Patterson showcased a video featuring all four OSTC campuses at his annual State of the County speech Feb. 7.


  • Oxford Community Schools has grown to 10 state-approved CTE programs and four CTE/Early Middle College (EMC) programs. Over 40 percent of the students attending Oxford High School have a CTE course on their schedule. The graduation rate for students enrolled in CTE programs is 98.6 percent. Additionally, 100 percent of students who have completed a CTE program have entered post-secondary education, advanced training employment or military service after graduation.


  • Forty-two Business Professional of America (BPA) students helped regional outreach activities supporting Blessings in Backpack, Children’s Hospital, Humane Society and Little Free Library initiative; while the Adams HS DECA club recently hosted a guest speaker from Crain’s Detroit Business and policymakers including US Sen. Debbie Stabenow and US Sen. Gary Peters.
  • Seventy-two Advanced Placement Computer Science and 94 Computer Programming students are working on Microsoft and JAVA programming credentials through Certiport.
  • Rochester HS celebrated its 4th Annual Shark Tank last month where students showcased their entrepreneurial ideas in front of several business owners and potential investors from in and around the Rochester community.

West Bloomfield

  • West Bloomfield High School already has 13 students who have qualified for DECA Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia. They have earned the first place status in Fashion, Hotel, Sports and Entertainment and Accounting Virtual Business. Students who have compiled Community Service DECA papers have raised over $15,000 for their respective non-profit organizations.
  • Two DECA seniors have already been accepted to Ross Business School at The University of Michigan. They have taken all of the district’s business classes offered and have been in DECA for their entire high school career.

Regardless of location, CTE programs provide the opportunity for high school students to earn industry-recognized certifications, college credit and engage in work-based learning opportunities with local business and industry partners. Infusing core academic content with high-level technical skills is what provides students who are involved in CTE classes with a competitive advantage to jump start a certain career path!

Check out more about the “Going Pro” Initiative , Career Technical Education in Michigan and a CTE National Perspective ACTE.

If you are a business and industry wanting to learn more about career readiness initiatives and partnership opportunities to bring employers, educators and students together please connect with us at: cfe@oakland.k12.mi.us.

You may also be interested in opportunities to connect with students and educators through MiBrightFuture.

Ben Morin, is a consultant for Student Services-Career Focused Education at Oakland Schools.

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