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Hearts in Hand, Skills in Demand


Every February, millions of flowers, gifts, candies, and cards exchange hands worldwide in the name of love. While our office admits to having a bit of a sweet tooth, we also love highlighting the impactful role that Career and Technical Education (CTE) plays here in Mississippi.

February is CTE Month, providing an opportunity to emphasize the significance of programs bridging the gap between secondary/post-secondary education and the workforce. 

In Mississippi, the impact has been substantial. Last year, nearly 4,000 high school students earned industry certifications in CTE programs focused on high-priority sectors like manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and construction. These students have the potential to earn an average of $5,000-$15,000 more per year, contributing to the state’s efforts to increase overall labor force participation. Our job as a state workforce system is to increase that number to make sure more students have those same transformative opportunities.  

CTE provides students with opportunities to explore careers while acquiring technical and employability skills that integrate into their academic studies. Our office is dedicated to developing and deploying workforce strategies, offering a crucial avenue for young adults to gain these skills starting in high school. 

Here are a few reasons why we love CTE: 

Higher Graduation Rates 

According to the Association for Career & Technical Education, students enrolled in CTE programs have a graduation rate of 93%, compared to the national average of 80%. The hands-on, real-world application of CTE significantly contributes to this improvement, making students more likely to graduate, enroll in a two-year college, and find employment. 

Targeted Career Focus 

CTE exposes students to STEM skills, demanded across various industries. Partnerships between industries, school districts, and community colleges create a pipeline of trained and certified workers. CTE helps students understand their career paths before investing time and money in education for a job they may not love. 

A Better Mississippi 

CTE positively impacts communities. Students prepared for fulfilling jobs benefit local economies, with businesses supporting these vital learning experiences. For instance, healthcare students contribute to community health, construction workers build critical infrastructure, and agriculture workers contribute to food production. 

In celebrating CTE Month, we recognize the transformative impact of these programs on individuals, communities, and the future workforce in Mississippi.