Porcelli: To Be, Or Not To Be – CTE? (3/30)

That’s the major question this column explores each week. How can William Shakespeare help students find the answers they seek?  Several of his characters offer a great deal of wisdom on the subject.

In one of his most famous lines, Hamlet says, “To be, or not to be, that is the Question.”

Consider how Shakespeare can help students answer this question today… To Degree, or not to Degree – That, is today’s question!

Hamlet uttered that famous line while contemplating his future. Many students today, primarily those in secondary schools, struggle to find their ideal educational path to their future. Unfortunately, most still do so without sufficient career guidance from their schools.

We all know numerous friends and relatives who suffer with various degrees of career dissatisfaction, and debt, caused by following the conventional, “college for all” advice.

Each year, countless high school grads enter costly college degree programs that they may not be suited for in terms of their talents, abilities, and timing, causing them to miss out on their best career opportunities.

Another character in Hamlet, offers these fitting words of wisdom to his son, as he departs for university: “This above all: to thine own self be true.”

For students in Shakespeare’s day, or 21st century students to be true to themselves… they must first understand themselves. In other words – understand their own truth. How can they best know what makes them “tick,” what talents and abilities they possess and what career paths those traits lend themselves to?

In Hamlet’s time, there were no career assessment tools. Today’s students have the advantage of the availability of a wide array of sophisticated assessment techniques that can guide them to their ideal careers. Such tools suggest occupational choices based on candidates’ skills, personalities, values, and interests, and offer crucial insights into the type of job that would best suit each individual, and the type of training required.

Regrettably, many schools still do not utilize these methods to properly guide students.

Fortunately, the internet now makes such testing available to all students and their families, and much of it is offered at little or no cost. Students interested in determining what their best educational paths are, should try googling these words: “free career assessment tests.” The search will return over a half million results, in less than half a second. Astounding!

Schools should offer this type of testing at every level. If they don’t, students should seek it themselves.


Follow the recommendation of Career Advisor, William Shakespeare:  To thine own self be true…  when determining whether to – “suffer The Slings and Arrows” of our archaic education system – or chart your own career course when deciding… To Degree – or CTE! Or, best of all, BOTH!

Academic & trade education are two sides of a coin. This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.


Mike Porcelli is a life-long mechanic, adjunct professor and host of Autolab Radio. He is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late.

Porcelli 3/23: Artificial Intelligence on CTE

By Mike Porcelli


The rapid rise of artificial intelligence is the hottest topic these days. In support of my mission to bring CTE and skilled career training to more students, last week I asked AI for help. The following are Chat GPT’s views on the benefits of trade education:

“Trade education focuses on imparting hands-on training and practical skills needed to excel in specific trades, allowing students to enter the workforce with a robust set of competencies…

A skilled workforce is the backbone of any thriving economy. By providing targeted training in high-demand fields, trade education helps create a pool of qualified professionals who can meet the needs of local businesses and industries…

As technology advances and industries evolve, there is an increasing demand for skilled workers who can keep pace with these changes. Traditional academic education might not adequately prepare students for the realities of the job market… Trade education, on the other hand, equips individuals with practical, job-specific knowledge that is directly applicable to their chosen careers.

Trade education also provides accessible career pathways for a wide range of individuals. Unlike traditional academic programs, which often require years of study and can be financially burdensome, trade education programs tend to be shorter and more affordable. This makes them an attractive option for those who may not have the resources or inclination to pursue a four-year degree. By offering alternative routes to stable, well-paying careers, trade education helps create a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

Trade education can empower individuals with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Skilled trades often involve working with one’s hands, solving problems, and creating tangible results. For many people, this type of work can be deeply satisfying and fulfilling. By mastering a trade, individuals can take pride in their abilities and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from contributing to their communities…

Trade education also promotes lifelong learning and adaptability. As industries continue to evolve, the need for professionals to stay current with new technologies and best practices becomes increasingly important. Trade education programs often emphasize continuous learning, providing opportunities for professionals to update their skills and knowledge throughout their careers. This adaptability ensures that the workforce remains competitive and can respond to the changing needs of the job market….

Trade education helps to break down the stigma surrounding skilled trades. For too long, vocational and technical careers have been undervalued in comparison to traditional academic paths. However, as the importance of skilled labor becomes increasingly apparent, society is beginning to recognize the value and dignity of these professions. By promoting trade education, we can create a more equitable and inclusive understanding of what it means to have a successful and fulfilling career.

In conclusion, trade education is of paramount importance in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world. It contributes to economic development by providing a skilled workforce, addresses the skills gap, and offers accessible career pathways to individuals from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, trade education fosters a sense of pride and accomplishment, promotes lifelong learning, and helps break down the stigma surrounding skilled trades. By investing in trade education, we can build a stronger and more resilient workforce that is equipped to navigate the challenges of the modern job market.”

Wow! Chat GPT seems to understand the importance of CTE better than the education officials who have defunded it for decades. Let’s hope they all learn from AI.


Academic & Trade Education are Two Sides of a Coin. This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.

Mike Porcelli: life-long mechanic, adjunct professor, and host of Autolab Radio, is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-porcelli-master-mechanic-allasecerts/ 

Porcelli: CTE, Our Time Is Now! (3/9)

A slogan that could also be the theme of this column. I’ve seen proof it’s now gaining widespread momentum.

Last week, I heard this message from dozens of students, faculty members, and parents, when I had the opportunity to observe the SkillsUSA student competition, at Thomas Edison CTE High School in Queens. There, hundreds of CTE students from across the city competed in various tests of their technical and job skills taught by their outstanding faculties.

In their annual SkillsUSA regional competition, students demonstrated their newly acquired abilities in areas like: automotive, electrical, carpentry, photography, computers, and several other career tracks. Not only did the students compete with one another in their respective areas, I am told, they also organized the entire event themselves. Every aspect of the day was most impressive, and all the participating students, faculty, and administrators, should be extremely proud of their accomplishments.

SkillsUSA, the largest organization dedicated to preparing students for technical, skilled and service careers, has been an integral part of career and technical education since 1965, with a mission of improving the quality of our skilled workforce.

Their goal is to help students achieve career readiness through partnerships with dedicated teachers in CTE schools. They team up with those schools to ensure that students have opportunities to grow their skills, learn how to be world-class leaders, and are prepared to reduce the growing job skills gap.

SkillsUSA organizes events, conferences, and programs to provide opportunities for students to grow their skills in many ways. Students learn essential job skills and other work essentials, by developing and showcasing their abilities through regional SkillsUSA Championships.

The program’s learning expectations are based on the skills sets needed by industry. This includes personal, workplace, and technical skills grounded in academics. Participating students develop all the skill sets needed to make them valuable members of the workforce.

Across the country, students in SkillsUSA chapters participate in their Chapter Excellence Programs, where they receive invaluable experiences through planning and executing activities by applying the essential elements they learn in class.

The theme of SkillsUSA, “Our Time is Now,” conveys to students, now is their time to develop employability skills, demonstrate those skills, and take every opportunity to develop themselves into powerful skilled workforce leaders.

Their message to students: Training opportunities are available to you, so reach out and grab them NOW!

My message to school administrators: Make Career and Technical Education learning opportunities available to every student who wants to… reach out and grab them – and DO IT NOW!

End the skills gap now – CTE for ALL!

More here: https://www.skillsusa.org/

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