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A look into Western Montana's Career and Technical Education

Posted at 2:11 PM, Feb 27, 2022

MISSOULA — February has been adopted as Career and Technical Education (CTE) month.

And as we wrap up the month, we got to explore the different avenues of CTE and how students can get a jump start on their careers out of high school.

“It's not that old 50s style co-ed type classes anymore,” said Kasey Dirnberger, Missoula County Public Schools CTE coordinator.

Career and Technical Education prepares students for their future careers by providing a space to explore their passions.

Polson High School and Missoula County Public Schools say they recognize the importance of CTE and are growing their programs.

“Kids are actually doing things that they will do in their careers after high school,” Dirnberger told MTN News.

“And our responsibility would be to offer as many opportunities as we can so that we're serving not just our students but the needs of our community as well,” said Andy Fors, Polson High School Principal.

Some careers in CTE include welding, plumbing, information technology, agriculture, and construction.

At Missoula College’s West Campus, students are building a house as a part of their program, providing an opportunity for hands-on work experience before they enter the workforce.

“The more we can get students to experience that feeling of ‘Hey, I did this,'" said John Freer, Missoula College trades education director, "It's something that, especially in the construction world, keeps people coming back over and over again.”

Freer said these careers are important to our community and are the most economical training students can get.

“We're seeing our students come out the door and they're getting hired, much higher than the average wage in Missoula, and getting out with little to no student debt.”

Click on the links for more information about CTE at Missoula Cunty Public Schools, Polson Schools, or Missoula College.