That’s because the expectations we set for young people can play a pivotal role in determining their life outcomes.

This fall, the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation is taking the Trade Up! message statewide as part of our continuing efforts to raise awareness of the value of modern career and technical education. Today’s high school students have more choices than ever when it comes to building solid foundations for rewarding careers, and we can credit that fact largely to an expansion of CTE programs that are being retooled for the modern age.

Students in Mississippi no longer must settle for either-or career paths in high school. Modern CTE programs enable them to complete industry based certification programs and go to work after they graduate or use their specialized training to get a head start on two- or four-year college degrees.

Whatever path they choose, one thing is certain: Modern CTE programs are focused on college and career readiness. Of course, that’s great news for students. But it’s also great news for parents who want the very best for their children and want them to experience success as well as personal satisfaction in their chosen professions.

If your child’s career choice happens to be a professional trade, the future is very bright. Professional trades are among the highest paying and fastest growing jobs in the country and offer career stability, competitive pay and benefits, opportunities for advancement and paths to entrepreneurship.

In modern CTE programs, students acquire much more than a trade — they also learn about project management, communication skills, teamwork and collaboration, creative problem solving, safe work practices, and other qualities that are crucial for success in the workplace.

They’re also exposed to cutting-edge technologies that are highly valued in the job market. Technology continues to play a dominant role in today’s top careers, from engineering to health care to computer science to construction. Modern CTE programs allow students to gain hands-on experience with the latest technologies in actual work environments. By the time they graduate from high school, they have impressive résumés that they can continue building on.

Their credentials also are portable. CTE programs in Mississippi follow standards set by the National Center for Construction Education and Research, meaning students’ training and credentials are recognized by construction and manufacturing industries worldwide.

As part of MCEF’s mission, we’re working with the Mississippi Department of Education and a statewide coalition of business and industry partners to ensure that our CTE centers maintain NCCER certifications and provide high-quality training and education programs that give students a foundation for lifelong success.

I encourage you to check out CTE programs in your community. You’ll see that students are being encouraged to aim higher by having access to the technologies, resources and training required to succeed in the modern workplace.

At more than 500 schools and 15 community and junior colleges across Mississippi, CTE instruction is offered in 49 distinct occupational areas. Students may enroll in construction and manufacturing programs in secondary, postsecondary or short-term adult sessions, as well as through industry training or business and industry partnerships.

Students in Mississippi are getting the message. Now it’s time for everyone else to catch up!

MCEF plans to take the Trade Up! message to communities across Mississippi to build awareness and support for modern CTE programs and career paths. Schools, civic clubs, churches and other groups interested in hosting a Trade Up! conversation are encouraged to contact MCEF at 601-605-2989.

See you soon!