The director of the North Dakota Department of Career and Technical Education said there continues to be a strong demand for CTE.
Wayde Sick said employers across the state have for a long time understood the importance of career and technical education – and they continue to support it.
"They continue to say our high schools and colleges need to make sure students are being helped in planning for careers," Sick said. "The demand is here."
Sick said of the 14,000 to 15,000 unfilled jobs in North Dakota, many require an associate degree or less.
"That's a big focus for career and technical education," Sick said.
Sick said there are 10 CTE centers in North Dakota. Five are brick and mortar, and the rest are “virtual centers,” where career and technical education is offered on-line, or through interactive television.
"There's still an opportunity for those students taking the courses virtually to travel to a center, and get that hands-on experience," Sick said. "That happens a couple of time a semester, at least."
Sick said eventually, he would like to see more CTE brick-and-mortar centers across the state. He said there is no such center in western North Dakota right now.
"There are virtual centers in the western part of the state, but a brick-and-mortar center doesn't exist past Bismarck," Sick said. "Williston State College has a wonderful CTE program. But we have to work on 'feeders' that can provide more niche programs, because they can scale it."
Sick said some rural schools may not be able to scale it, because they don't have the student body.
"But if we have more centers, with students from different schools, we can scale it and provide some of those courses and programs that we may not be able to right now," Sick said.