Thursday, April 06, 2017

Low salaries lead to shortage of teachers of career and technical training in rural areas

High schools, especially in rural areas, lack qualified instructors to teach career and technical education (CTE) courses, according to a Stateline analysis of a 2016 report on teacher shortages by the U.S. Department of Education and its Office of Postsecondary Education. Stateline found that two-thirds of states report a CTE shortage, with states such as Maine, Maryland and New York having had shortages for almost 20 years, and Minnesota and South Dakota for a decade.

The main reason for the shortages is that "salaries are too low to compete with salaries in technical fields," Stateline's Sophie Quinton reports. "Too few young people are specializing in career and technical education in college. And it’s hard to attract teachers to isolated schools in rural areas." A study of 37 state directors by Advance CTE found that attempts to attract teachers with financial incentives have not been successful. (Stateline graphic: Reasons state directors say they can't fill CTE jobs)
That's creating problems, especially in rural areas where students are less likely to attend college and high schools can prepare them "to step into jobs that require some extra training but not a college degree, such as home health aides, a profession expected to grow by 38 percent over the next decade, or entry-level jobs in construction and the skilled trades," Quinton writes. "The construction sector, like health care, is expected to grow faster than the national average in the years to come."

Lawmakers in many states are trying to solve the problem, Quinton writes. "The Virginia Legislature and the boards of education in New York and South Dakota have adjusted CTE licensing requirements in recent years to make it easier for people to start teaching. Last year, North Carolina and Virginia created licenses that allow technical workers to teach part time. People from industry in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and Ohio already have a similar option." Tennessee "allows people who have worked in industry to count their years of work experience as years of teaching experience."

Problems still persist in states like Minnesota, where a report from a state task force "found that across five in-demand specialties, a third of all CTE teachers had been hired on short-term special permission licenses," Quinton writes. "In some of those specialties the share was higher: nearly 40 percent for manufacturing, 50 percent for construction and 54 percent for medicine."

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