Lincoln Trail College Celebrates Career and Technical Education Month

Lincoln Trail College students learn about outside plant maintenance from instructor Dennis York
Feb 07, 2023

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month and Lincoln Trail College is joining other community colleges across the state in celebrating the importance of preparing the workforce for in-demand jobs. CTE programs offered at Lincoln Trail College provide students with hands-on training and real-world experience in a variety of industries.
“CTE programs offer students an opportunity to receive hands-on training and a degree or certificate that prepares them for a career in one-to-two years,” said LTC Dean of Instruction Cyndi Boyce. “This is a great alternative to a traditional four-year degree. Career and technology education can give students the technical skills, academic skills and employability skills that meet the needs of employers. These skills, however, can also help students succeed when deciding to continue their education.”
According to the National Skills Coalition, nearly two-thirds of jobs in the U.S. economy are middle-skill jobs that require education beyond high school but not a four-year college degree. Many of these jobs are in CTE fields such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and IT which are among the fastest-growing occupations projected through 2029 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Boyce says it is a myth that jobs in CTE fields are somehow less desirable. “As students face challenging economic times, CTE programs can be a lifeline.  Students who complete a CTE program often receive higher paying jobs in a career that excites them.”
She says one of the things students like about CTE programs is the opportunity to learn by doing. “Hands-on training is important because students completing our CTE programs are better prepared to begin their career, making them more desirable hires. Students can see how the knowledge and training they received applies to the needs of employers, thus making them more successful in today's labor market.”
Some of LTC’s programs have earned national recognition. College ranking organization Intelligent tabbed Illinois Eastern Community Colleges as the top Online Associate in Medical Assisting Program in the nation while a team of students in the Process Technology program finished in third place in the North American Process Technology Alliance’s Troubleshooting Skills Competition.
For CMA Lead Instructor Dr. Jared Gullett, the ranking was an honor. “I'm honored to lead a program that is ranked highly among other similar programs.  This shows that our graduates are more than prepared for patient care in the workforce. I think the flexibility of online and traditional face to face coursework makes our program stand out.  We also start learning hands-on clinical skills right out of the gate, which I think students enjoy.”
The Process Technology program has earned top-three finishes in each of the two years it has competed in the NAPTA competition and Instructor Tina Lindley says students are already preparing for the 2023 event. The event takes advantage of simulation software provided by Simtronics Corporation and students work together to troubleshoot a process upset. Lindley says the competition helps students learn how to be better team players, how to be safer employees, and gives them a better understanding of the industry, all traits employers search for.
Boyce says LTC works directly with industry leaders to make sure the college’s education remains cutting-edge. “We work with business and industry through advisory councils and internship opportunities. Our CTE faculty and Perkins Coordinator Rob Jackman meet quarterly with representatives from our partner industries to discuss program enrollment, internships, industry needs, and programs needs.”
CTE programs at Illinois community colleges offer a cost-effective way for individuals to pursue their career goals by costing a fraction of the tuition at four-year institutions, making it a more accessible option for many students.
"Illinois community colleges have a long history of working with local businesses and industries to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today's workforce," said Brian Durham, Executive Director of the Illinois Community College Board. "CTE programs at community colleges are an essential part of our state's workforce development strategy, and we are proud to be a part of preparing the next generation of workers."
For more information about the CTE programs offered at Lincoln Trail College, please visit Students considering LTC for the Fall Semester have a scholarship deadline coming up in March. LTC’s Priority Deadline is March 17 and prospective students can visit to get started on the application process.