Honoring the Graduates—Specifically Career Tech Ed Students—of 2020
Jeannine Kunz, Vice President, Tooling U-SME on
June 16, 2020
When we entered 2020, I, like many other people, looked forward to the new decade with a sense of hope, optimism and enthusiasm. I set personal goals and laid out business plans, eager to watch them unfold over the next 12 months. But our lives changed drastically within the first quarter of the new year. The COVID-19 pandemic took hold and turned our world upside down, disrupting everything from our daily hustle and bustle to long-awaited milestones like weddings, birthdays and graduations.
The impact of this crisis has certainly hit the graduating class of 2020 hard. Plans for senior trips, proms, honors and commencement ceremonies have been canceled and replaced by acknowledgments shared virtually by communities, loved ones and even celebrities. Though this year’s high school and college graduates will miss out on the traditional activities and ceremonies, they still have one thing that a crisis cannot take away from them: having successfully earned a diploma or degree signifying the completion of all their hard work in pursuit of their education.
Hats off to all the 2020 graduates including those students who participated in career and technical education (CTE) programs that prepared them for high-wage, high-skill and high-demand careers. These students took classes and earned credits to help them meet the criteria needed to support the industries in dire need of skilled talent. Many of them accessed Tooling U-SME’s online classes through the Keep CTE Moving portal, which leading industry partners created to ensure CTE students continued their education virtually when the pandemic struck. So, regardless of whether CTE students decide to go to college or enter the workforce, they are well prepared for the future.
We are also proud of the students who finished their hands-on training through SME’s PRIME (Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education) initiative, which we partner with to provide industry-leading curricula to support their career and technical educational opportunities — and their careers. By completing the PRIME program, manufacturers will have access to a well-prepared talent pipeline and graduates can walk into jobs making great salaries.
We wholeheartedly agree with Mike Rowe, who recently released a commencement speech to America, offering a heartfelt congratulations to the class of 2020, specifically calling out the graduates of trade schools and high school graduates who decide to forego a four-year college experience in favor of learning a skill. Simply put, Rowe says, “…Thanks for ignoring the many myths and misperceptions that keep millions of people from exploring a viable career in the trades…”
Like Rowe, we know the critical importance of providing all learners with an opportunity to gain an education — whether it be college prep, postsecondary or skilled trades. No matter the route, education or training is the key to career and personal success!
So, as we look ahead to what will come after the COVID-19 crisis, we celebrate the class of 2020 and further echo the sentiments of Mike Rowe: “…when things get back to normal, this country is going to enter a new age of work, a new age of making things, and fixing things and building things; an age where skilled workers are going to be in demand like never before.”
Whatever they plan to do after graduation — be it entering the workforce immediately, pursuing certifications or postsecondary education — we wish them well and success in their new pursuits!
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