Start Planning For Your Career Today!

It is never too early to start planning for your future.  Decisions you make at a young age can change your tomorrow.  Many young students have an idea of a dream job even as early as elementary school.  It is important to commit time planning and researching your options before filling out that college application to Harvard.  Today our economy offers many opportunities for successful long-term careers.  Dig a little deeper to see how you can match your passion with a well paying job.

Half of recent college graduates are either unemployed, underemployed, or working in a job that did not require a four-year degree.  Many recent graduates are leaving school with high levels of debt.  Incomes for many of these graduates are not justifying the sky high rates of tuition at many schools.   

The solution to this problem is changing the way we look at higher education.  A four-year degree is still the answer to securing a high wage career. The difference is the pathway to that degree.  Today businesses hire students with specific technical skills as entry level employees or apprentices and invest in there education as they develop within the company.  Many companies are willing to cover the full cost of a four-year degree over time as employees prove they can add value to the future growth and sustainability of the business model. 

In our fast-paced modern economy, businesses and industries are looking for employees with very specific technical skills that can be molded and developed within the culture of their own unique operation.  CTE classes and pathways provide the skills training needed to secure these jobs.  Nicholas Pinchuk, chairman and CEO of Snap-On-Tools, stated at a recent labor summit: "We are in a global competition for jobs; the single best weapon is CTE. We need to out-skill the competition."

Before deciding how and where to spend your educational dollars, take a moment to do some real research into CTE options and advantages.  Check out this great resource: to see real data on how different degrees result in obtaining high-wage career opportunities in North Carolina. The data in NC Tower is derived from the NC Common Follow-up System (CFS), a longitudinal repository of training, education, and workforce data maintained by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.  Below you will learn important facts about higher education and CTE options available in Catawba County Schools CTE program.

The Truth About College:

  • A four-year degree can set you back as much as $60,000 a year.

  • 70% of college students that borrowed for a bachelor’s degree granted in 2013, owed an average of $29,400.

  • More than 650,000 federal student loan borrowers who entered repayment in 2011 defaulted on their loans by 2013.

  • Overall, the six-year graduation rate for four-year institutions is only 59%.

  • 8.5% of college graduates between the ages of 21 and 24 were unemployed between April 2013 and March 2014.

  • 16.8% of new grads are “underemployed,” meaning they’re either jobless and hunting for work; working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job; or want a job, have looked within the past year, but have now given up on searching.

  • 44% of recent graduates are in a job that did not technically demand a bachelor’s degree.

Many students graduating college end up worse off than if they had started working at 18.

The Good News For the Top of the Class

Facts About Catawba County

2014 Projected Median Household Income - $44,100

2014 Projected Per Capita Income - $23,494

Current Unemployment Rate - 7.4% (5,239)

Current Job Openings - 5,663

Citizen's With High School Diploma - 81.4%

Citizen's With a College Bachelor's Degree - 19.7%

Workforce Living and Working in County - 78.7%

Top Employment Industries:

  • Manufacturing - 21,390

  • Retail - 9,660

  • Government - 9,548

  • Health Care - 8,090

  • Food Service - 6,448


Top Five Skills Most Needed:

  1. Honesty / Integrity

  2. Dependability / Responsiblity

  3. Work Ethic

  4. Teamwork

  5. Listening / Following Directions

source: Innovate Catawba Tapping Into Talent

How Is CTE Making a Difference in Catawba County?

We are making every effort to align our Career Technical Education classes with local business and college partnerships.  Today you can take courses at all of our local high schools that link directly to career opportunities right here in our local communities.  Today our students can take courses that lead to local careers in advanced manufacturing, robotics, furniture, computer science, nursing, welding, engineering, and more.  In 2017, CVCC will partner with Catawba County Schools to open the new Workforce Solutions Center on the campus of the community college.  Through the Career & College Promise program, high school students will be able to acquire STEM skills training that leads directly to local career opportunities.

Middle School Opportunities

Middle school is the time to begin exploring careers and skills through CTE course offerings.  At each of our middle schools we offer introductory courses in word-processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and database.  Our plan is to expand those offerings to include robotics in the near future.  Student also have the opportunity to begin career exploration through CTE courses and the Catawba County Extreme STEM tours.  Check out this video to learn more about our tours from last year.

High School Opportunities: Career & College Promise

Success in today’s global economy may require a two-or four-year degree, a certificate or diploma. Through Career & College Promise (CCP), qualified high-school-age students in North Carolina have the opportunity to pursue these options, tuition free, while they are in high school, allowing them to get a jump start on their workplace and college preparation.

All of our Catawba County high schools allow students to take college courses for dual credit at now cost while enrolled has a high school student.  Some courses are offered online while others require you to commute as a junior or senior for part of the school day to Catawba Valley Community College.

High School Opportunities: Work-based Learning

Catawba County Schools CTE division has the largest work-based learning program in the state of North Carolina.  We place more than 500 students annually into job shadows, internships, or apprenticeships.

Benefits for Students
Students benefit from work-based learning through:

  • application of classroom learning (both academic and technical) in real-world setting
  • establishment of a clear connection between school and work
  • assessment of their interests, aptitudes, and abilities while learning about the career possibilities available to them
  • improvement of their postgraduation employment opportunities
  • development and practice of positive work-related habits and attitudes including the ability to think critically, solve problems, work in teams, and resolve issues
  • assessment and understanding of the expectations of the workplace
  • establishment of professional contacts for future employment
  • expansion and refinement of their technical skills
  • participation in authentic, job-related tasks
  • observation of the demeanor and procedures of workplace professionals
  • increased motivation/appreciation for staying in school
  • awareness of post-secondary education opportunities

Benefits for Employers
Employers benefit from work-based learning through:

  • a pool of skilled and motivated potential future employees
  • improved employee retention
  • reduced training/recruitment costs
  • developmental opportunities for a current workforce
  • development of new projects with student assistance
  • involvement in the curriculum development process
  • an opportunity to provide community service

Benefits for Schools
Schools benefit from work-based learning through:

  • expanding the curriculum and learning facilities
  • exposing students to state-of-the-art equipment, technology, and techniques
  • meeting the needs of diverse student populations
  • individualizing instruction for students
  • promoting and fostering faculty interaction with the business community
  • enhancing faculty/staff development efforts
  • making education more relevant and valuable to students
  • increasing student retention rates in schools
  • reducing overcrowding by utilizing off-campus learning sites
  • providing an alternative to building additional classrooms and laboratories to accommodate growth

Benefits for the Community
The community benefits from work-based learning through:

  • creating an environment of collaboration and cooperation among the school, the employers, and the community
  • encouraging respect, tolerance, and understanding among different groups
  • contributing to building a more productive local economy
  • fostering confidence in the school system as practical and beneficial results are observed

Career Pathway Courses