Pearl River Community College

PRCC: February is national CTE month

February is Career and Technical Education Month across the United States and nowhere is it emphasized more than at Pearl River Community College.

CTE graduates have professional credentials and options for great careers, pathways to college and success in whatever they choose to do.

“CTE differs from our transfer pathways by preparing students with the skills needed to enter directly into the workforce,” said Dr. James David Collum, Dean of Career and Technical Education at PRCC’s Forrest County Center.

“Our CTE students can learn what they need and have the ability to obtain the necessary licensure, certifications, or other credentials to be successful. That is not to say that these programs are terminal. Many of the IHL’s in Mississippi accept the CTE credits toward specific degree pathways.”

CTE is so much more than the vocational classes of the past.

“Today’s CTE programs integrate the latest pedagogical theories and latest educational technologies to ensure that our students learn effectively,” said Dr. Collum. “Many of our students also can take part in work-based learning opportunities, including clinical rotations and internships.”

Dr. Jana Causey, Vice President for the Forrest County Center, Allied Health and Nursing programs, agrees.

          “The difference is three major movements, the education of the public about the value of these programs, the expansion of these programs, and the emphasis on higher education to open up more opportunities for career-technical graduates to move forward, expand their knowledge, and achieve higher degrees,” she said.  

       “Once upon a time, these degrees were terminal. The coursework didn’t matriculate into higher degrees. Now, colleges and universities understand how valuable these degrees are to our society, economy, and advancement.”    

By definition, Career and Technical Education is a term applied to schools, institutions, and educational programs that specialize in the skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and career preparation.

CTE students learn using the equipment and tools they will use in their career field. 

PRCC offers 42 unique CTE programs at all campuses to meet the needs of students and local businesses. Seventeen of those programs are at the Forrest County Center and serve nearly 600 students.

Research shows that CTE leads to reduced dropout rates and higher rates of on-time graduation.

Said Dr. Collum, “I believe the nature of how our CTE programs are structured leads to higher retention and on-time graduation rates. Most of our programs accept students as a charity, and they are put on a clear pathway to graduation.”

Dr. Causey adds that Career and Technical Education is a pathway that a student can take to find a rewarding career and have opportunities to further their education. 

“There is a critical skills gap and workforce challenge in the United States and Career and Technical Education answers the call of this need,” said Dr. Causey.

“CTE students persist at a higher rate and make higher wages because they experience an immediate practical application in their coursework making their education relevant.” 

For information about the Career and Technical Education programs at PRCC’s Forrest County Center, call 601-554-5539, email jcollum@prcc.edu or visit the FCC on U.S. 49 South.

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