Watch CBS News

North Texas school district's career prep programs motivate the next generation

North Texas school district's career prep programs motivate the next generation
North Texas school district's career prep programs motivate the next generation | On Your Corner. In Your Corner 02:35

IRVING — Interest in career prep programs has skyrocketed in the past decade, and school districts across North Texas are working to meet the demand.

Over the past 12 years, Grand Prairie ISD has gone from 11 Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs to more than 30, with enrollment increasing by approximately 10 percent every year.

"CTE, career and technical education, is no longer your mom and pop's vo-tech school, and we're trying to get that message out to folks that it's not the same as it was 20, 30, 40 years ago," said Aniska Douglas, the chief of CTE and Innovative Programs for Grand Prairie ISD.

About 5,000 students in the district are currently enrolled in CTE courses. GPISD offers more than 30 career pathways, from automotive and graphic design to the culinary arts and health sciences.

"Our goal is to meet demand with supply," Douglas said. "So all of the jobs and careers that we're aiming towards are high skill, high demand, high wage professions."

Some students go straight into the workforce after graduation, while others continue their education in college. CTE gives them options and real-world experience.

"I'm just like, 'whoa, if I didn't have this opportunity, who knows what I would be and what steps I would be taking,'" said Elizabeth Cardenas, a senior at Dubiski High School.

The 18-year-old started interning at the HOLT CAT facility in Irving in her junior year. She hopes to get a full-time job with the company as a technician when she graduates high school.

"Heavy equipment technicians in general have been becoming harder and harder to get," said Robbie Tedder, the service manager of the HOLT CAT Irving Machine Department. "The field is becoming very limited. The ability to get advanced technicians that are trained and ready to go is pretty much a thing of the past. So we rely on sort of a grow-your-own theory."

HOLT CAT is one of more than 100 GPISD has partnered with over the past decade for its CTE programs. They give high school students the opportunity to combine classroom knowledge with on-the-ground training.

"It's not just, we teach them how to be good technicians," Tedder said. "We teach them how to be better people and just open up doors for whatever way they want to go."

Elizabeth is excited to grow her career at HOLT CAT.

"A lot of kids don't know what to do and are struggling financially to go to college," she said. "I think this company and the path I'm taking really helps me out."

This world is familiar to Elizabeth since her dad runs a tow truck business.

"I did grow up around cars, tow trucks, 18-wheelers," Elizabeth said. "I worked with my dad fixing the tows."

She says both of her parents are proud she's been able to find her passion and apply herself in this industry.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.