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Twenty-first century workers are faced with rapidly changing work opportunities that require all of us to have a greater variety of career and technical skills to survive and succeed in the career changes we are likely to encounter. Members of the business and corporate communityalso have expressed concern about the lack of workplace skills among some of the young employees they hire.

Structured Learning Experiences (SLEs) are an integral part of both instructional and career and technical education programs.  SLEs provide students with opportunities to explore career interests at work and community sites, make career decisions and prepare for postsecondary careers. DOE regulations require that SLEs be designed as rigorous activities, integrated into the curriculum and linked to the Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS). SLE student activities have identifiable educational goals that are high-level and an important part of the curriculum, plus incorporate links to career, technology and academic standards. SLEs give students opportunities to both demonstrate and apply a high level of academic attainment. There are a variety of SLEs that include paid and unpaid experiences, depending upon the goal of the SLE and child labor regulations. SLEs include, but are not limited to: apprenticeships; career and technical education student organization activities; community service; community-based instruction; cooperative education experiences; internships; job shadowing; school-based work experiences; senior year options; service learning; structured agriculture education; vocational assessments; volunteer activities; and the work experience career exploration program (WECEP). All teachers supervising SLEs complete a training program required by DOE. This includes courses on federal and state child wage and hour laws, regulations and hazardous orders, the OSHA 10 general industry certificate program and a course on designing and implementing SLE student training plans. Nearly 1,000 teachers have participated in the required training. http://www.nj.gov/education/cte/sle/resource_packet.pdf

Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) are also an integral part of career and technical education instructional programs. These organizations provide students with the opportunity to enhance their employability by developing their occupational and leadership skills through a variety of activities, such as conferences, award programs and competitive events. Activities are conducted at the local, state and national levels. CTSO programs and competitive events reflect current standards and competencies for the occupational education programs they serve. Teachers infuse the organization’s activities into the instructional programs, enhancing the real-world connection to the academic studies.  CTSOs are also a valuable tool for implementing the CCCS. The organizations are co-curricular and promote leadership, personal growth and career success among their members, while instilling in them the values and ideals of citizenship, volunteerism, patriotism and cooperation. In addition, they provide professional development opportunities for teachers and advisors as part of their activities.

The department has focused its attention on partnerships among business, school districts and institutions of higher education to create career and technical education programs for students interested in pursuing certain careers.

More information is available via the Office of Career and Technical Education.