Tomahawk High School recognizes CTE Month

By Ryan Huseby

Tomahawk High School Principal

CTE Director


TOMAHAWK – According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, nearly 70% of jobs require more education than a high school diploma and less than a four-year degree. Nearly one-third of the fastest-growing occupations will require a technical education degree or diploma, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month. Tomahawk High School (THS) recognizes the importance of preparing students for the high skilled labor force of the future.

CTE courses

THS students have the opportunity to explore career fields, as well as develop the technical knowledge and skills sets needed to obtain high-skill, high-wage jobs.

THS provides over 33 CTE courses in the areas of Business, Marketing, Construction, Culinary, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Healthcare, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Merchandising, Power Technology and Youth Apprenticeship.

Many of the CTE courses provide students with a head start on their career by providing the opportunity to earn college credits and industry certifications while taking the high school course. THS takes pride in providing quality CTE experiences designed for all students and preparing graduates for future learning at a four-year college, technical college, military or entrance into the workforce.

THS students have the opportunity to earn credits at two- and four-year colleges while completing CTE courses in high school. Currently, THS students are able to earn 37 college credits through CTE courses, and this number is increasing yearly with the continued development of CTE programming.

Dual credit courses

Dual credit courses allow THS students to advance their CTE knowledge and skills and get a head start on post-high school education, saving students valuable time and money when pursuing the credentials needed for their career of choice.

Through dual credit courses, THS students saved a total of more than $50,000.00 in tuition from technical colleges alone in 2021-22. Many students also saved tuition in the university system through successful completion of other dual credit CTE courses.

The number of THS students that successfully completed a dual credit course in 2020-21 (46.8%) exceeded the state average (17.8%).

Through these same CTE courses, students are also able to earn industry-recognized certifications in various computer programs, OSHA Safety, Culinary ServSafe, health and childcare services, Miller Welding, automotive safety, Microsoft Office, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Adobe Suite, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Youth Apprenticeship (YA) and more.

These certifications represent the higher level of skill and competency required by many employers.

Work-Based Learning, Youth Apprenticeship programs

According to the Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, the average salary for an apprenticeship journey worker in Wisconsin is over $54,000.00. From plumbing to welding to manufacturing and construction, apprenticeship programs in Wisconsin offer great salaries and benefits.

THS offers multiple Work-Based Learning programs. Some Work-Based Learning programs involve students being a paid employee and working alongside an industry professional. The professional mentors the student employee to learn industry-specific skills while improving their overall employability skills needed to be successful in any job setting.

The THS Youth Apprenticeship (YA) program is a great option for students who are looking to gain employability and occupational skills.

When at work, YA students complete a series of State-approved industry competencies while taking related coursework at THS. Students may be eligible to earn THS and technical college credit for successfully completing the program.

THS is proud to say that it has one of the highest work-based learning program enrollments in our area and appreciates the vital business partnerships that have been established through these programs.

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CTE students are often involved in Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs).

You may be familiar with FBLA, FCCLA, HOSA, FFA and SkillsUSA. CTSOs develop citizenship, technical, leadership and teamwork skills essential for students who are preparing for the workforce and further education. CTSOs do this by developing meaningful partnerships with the community and industry to create opportunities to link school-based learning to real world work and community situations.

This work allows students to continue to develop themselves to be successful future employees and citizens.

CTSOs also provide local, state and national competitions for students to demonstrate the previously-mentioned skills and continue to develop their professional networks while in high school. These competitions are often facilitated and sponsored by industry professionals. Competitors can earn scholarships, supplies and other resources for them to use moving forward towards achieving career goals.

Tomahawk High School is proud to offer CTSO opportunities in FBLA, FCCLA and SkillsUSA. We congratulate the students and advisors for their successes and appreciate the contributions to our community.

Student-led businesses

Tomahawk High School CTE departments offer multiple courses that act and partner directly with local businesses.

Hatchet Innovations, THS Incorporated and Enterprise Wood Products are THS courses that are student-run businesses that provide real world applications of content learned in classes and allow for quality connections with the school, community and local businesses. Students develop processes for design, production, financial management, marketing, distribution and much more.

These student-led businesses work within the school for operation of the school store and servicing school entities. They also complete work for non-school customers and place products in local businesses through partnerships.

The courses also utilize modern, high -tech equipment and tools to manufacture products to address consumer requirements. Examples of this equipment include 3D printers, 3D scanners, computer controlled routers and plasma cutters, laser cutters and engravers, graphic printers and cutters, direct-to-garment printers, graphic production equipment and more.

Skills sets developed through the use of these technologies create a solid foundation for success working in modern and advanced manufacturing pathways.

CTE experiences prepare students for future success

According to the US Department of Education, CTE provides a good return on investment when it comes to creating a greater percentage of college-going students.

Seventy percent of students concentrating in CTE areas stayed in postsecondary education or transferred to a four-year degree program (compared to an overall average state target of 58%) and transitioned to postsecondary education or employment by December of the year of high school graduation.

Also, high-risk students are eight to 10 times less likely to drop out in grades 11 or 12 if enrolled in a CTE program compared to general education.

CTE experiences prepare students for future success in post secondary education, the military and directly entering the workforce after graduation.

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