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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

‘Every weld is a challenge’

Philadelphia schools are focusing career-tech training on preparing students to move from high school to apprenticeships and skilled jobs, reports Chalkbeat’s Dale Mezzacappa.

Ahjhané  Blackwell discovered a flair for welding. With help from the Talent Pipeline Project, she found a job at Rhoads Industries, which specializes in industrial  fabrication, installation, and maintenance for ships.

She spoke at the “signing day” ceremony at which CTE graduates declare which job offer they’re accepting. “Every weld is a challenge,” Ahjhané said. “And every challenge is an opportunity to grow.”

Philadelphia’s career-tech students are required to take the same academic courses as college-prep students, writes Mezzacappa.

Recent data shows that local students on the CTE pathway are more likely to graduate high school than their peers. In Philadelphia district schools, 93% of students who take CTE courses from 10th through 12th grades graduated on time in the 2020-21 school year, compared to 80% who did not take any CTE courses, a district report found. In many of the trades offered, they can earn industry certifications that make them job-ready. And they are still prepared for college if they so choose.

Warren Crosby is learning precision machine technology at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High School. “I can make almost anything in the world,” Crosby said. He is headed to an apprenticeship at the Naval Foundry and Propeller Center.

“We have to be more educated at an academic level to learn CTE. You have to be way smarter,” his classmate Caleb Matthews said.

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