NCDPI Leads an Entire State to CTE Excellence
This blog post was originally published on Breaking Ground: the NCCER Blog, and was re-posted with permission.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) oversees the state’s entire public school system, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. In 2010, the NCDPI became an NCCER Accredited Training Sponsor to facilitate the implementation of career and technical education (CTE) programs in the state’s high schools. Over the past six years, the agency has experienced exemplary results in terms of the number of students earning NCCER credentials, improved graduation rates and providing the state’s young people with rewarding careers while bolstering the skilled workforce.
NCDPI currently offers NCCER training in Carpentry, Construction Technology, Electrical, HVAC, Masonry, Plumbing, Welding and Weatherization. In total, NCDPI has nearly 500 NCCER-certified instructors teaching CTE, and in the past three years alone, nearly 20,000 students have earned NCCER credentials over the course of their programs. One telling measure of NCDPI’s success is evidenced by the fact that 94 percent of all North Carolina students enrolled in CTE programs graduated high school in 2014, compared to just 84 percent of traditional students.
NCDPI’s craft training programs also benefit from the support of dedicated industry partners, who are actively involved with the program by serving on advisory committees, donating materials, organizing field trips, chairing SkillsUSA competitions and helping mentor students in their chosen crafts. Across the state, NCDPI boasts more than 50 industry partners, including numerous large and small contactors, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, North Carolina Community College System and a number of industry associations, such as Carolinas AGC, Associated Builders and Contractors, North Carolina Home Builders Association, Carolina Electrical Contractors Association and North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association.
While many of the state’s high school graduates enter the construction workforce immediately after graduation, others go on to receive postsecondary education at the state’s colleges and universities. To give these students a jumpstart on their degrees, NCDPI partners with the North Carolina Community College System, which not only provides transfer credits for certain high school CTE courses, but it also allows high school students to take community college courses for free. This enables high school students to take construction-related courses that their high schools may not offer.
The benefit of having early access to college-level courses has proven invaluable for many students who go on to receive college degrees and work at the top levels in the construction industry across the country. Several former students who earned advanced degrees and moved into lucrative careers, include a project manager in Clayton, North Carolina; a senior project engineer in Orlando, Florida; a general contractor in Louisburg, North Carolina and a project manager in Louisville, Kentucky. Furthermore, NCDPI has received excellent feedback from various construction companies throughout the state that hire the program’s graduates directly out of high school. Armed with valuable training and experience gained through their CTE programs, these students prove to be model employees.
About the Author
Craig Pendergraft, a native of Durham, North Carolina, is an education consultant for career and technical education at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and has spent the last 20 years in education. Pendergraft has taught engineering and architectural drafting, structural systems and industrial maintenance classes at various high schools in North Carolina. He also served as a SkillsUSA adviser and coached football, basketball, softball and swimming. Pendergraft earned a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Education in industrial technology with a concentration in drafting and design from East Carolina University. He is married and has three children.