With high school graduation nearing, many students across Texas are considering their next move be it a traditional or non-traditional route that will involve future careers, job prospects, and potential earnings. For a group of four students from Beaumont, Jaalah Baaheth, Seth Carl, Savanna Mitchell, and
Nick Walker, the decision to continue with their education was met with much celebration and applause from the State Legislature in Austin as well as Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Texas Education Agency and Lamar Institute of Technology. These students took part in the first-ever State of Texas Career and Technical Education (CTE) Signing Day. The celebration kicked off with Texas State Representative James White reading resolution HR 241 on the House floor declaring March 8th Texas’ CTE Signing Day.
After the formal reading, the students joined TWC Commissioners Ruth Hughs, Julian Alvarez, and representatives from Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT) for a scholarship signing ceremony and reception held at the Texas Workforce Commission building in Austin, Texas.
“There were so many more people there than I thought would be, and it showed that there were a lot more people behind us,” said Jaalah Baaheth, a Biology student at Lamar Institute of Technology. “[Signing day is] going to push me to study harder because I now know people are depending on me. I know that I can do this because there are a whole bunch of people rooting for me.”
CTE Signing Day, meanwhile, was modeled after traditional athletic signing days to celebrate Career and Technical Education.
Each of the students received $3,000, a $2,000 ExxonMobil scholarship and LIT President Dr. Lonnie L. Howard surprised the recipients with a personal $1,000 Presidential scholarship, to attend Lamar Institute of Technology and pursue their chosen career track. Fittingly, the Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT) slogan boasts
“Get a degree that works,” and is precisely what these students will do. Apparently, 92.8% of students who attend Lamar Institute of Technology find a career after graduation and the school ranks number one in the state for the most significant salary for graduates among two-year colleges.
“There was nothing more exciting than CTE signing day for our students, the parents, and our staff. That level of excitement is still there. The word is spreading,” said Lamar Institute of Technology President Dr. Lonnie Howard.
“I want to commend Rep. White, Commissioner Alvarez and all of TWC. It was a breathtaking moment for the students and me. It is something that I will not only remember for my professional career but a moment in time that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
LIT focuses on Career and Technical Education programs that offer a sequence of courses that provide students with relevant technical skills and knowledge needed to prepare for further education and careers in high-demand and emerging industries.
“CTE often flies under the radar, but it’s something that needs more attention,” said Seth Carl, CTE signing day participant studying business. “[This scholarship] is definitely a head start and it will help me better prepare for a future career.”
All the while, demand for highly skilled workers continues to grow across Texas even though the narrative taught to students in classrooms across the state places a higher value on traditional four-year degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2012 and 2022 there will be 50,557,900 jobs openings for CTE graduates in 16 different career clusters. CTE Signing Day aims to encourage students to take the less traditional route and consider their job prospects and future earnings.
“It's really easy to feel pressured to go to a four-year school,” said Savanna Mitchell, Scholarship Recipient studying for her 30-hour OSHA certification which has a projected annual earnings of $72,000. “My Mom and I talked about my options and how there were more opportunities for me at a two-year school than there were at a traditional four-year. Other students should focus on their own personal requirements and desires when deciding what is best for them.”
As Jaalah, Seth, Savanna and Nick gear up for high school graduation and their new career paths, the Texas Workforce Commission continues the celebration, working to expand CTE Signing Day across the state. By sparking enthusiasm for CTE programs and the students choosing to attend them, Texas can come one step closer to meeting industry demands for highly skilled workers.
“I want to thank you for sharing this day and for being a wonderful example of what our workforce has to offer,” said Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “Your hard work and dedication will be recognized by our leading Texas industries.” CTE Signing Day supports the goals of the Tri-Agency by recognizing the important role that Career and Technical Education curriculum provides in ensuring a skilled future workforce.
For more information visit regarding CTE signing day: https://twc.texas.gov/news/lamar-institute-technology-joins-twc-recognizing-students-texas-first-ever-cte-signing-day-ceremony