CTA instructor Quiana Clark provides instruction during a hands-on activity.

The focus of career and technical education (CTE) for Virginia high school students is to provide pathways to explore career interests in current or emerging professions, which may include high-skill, high-wage or in-demand industry sectors.

The Southern Virginia Higher Education (SVHEC) houses the Career Tech Academy (CTA), which provides dual-enrollment career and technical training to high school juniors and seniors in Halifax, Charlotte and Mecklenburg counties.

Begun in 2018, the program offers an array of options that are designed to prepare students for in-demand careers in information technology, industrial technology with a focus on energy, automation and robotics, and welding. The program is currently enrolling for the Fall.

Students of CTA@SVHEC may earn high school and community college credit, the Career Studies Certificate through Danville and Southside Virginia Community Colleges, and other industry certifications. The CTA experience follows the framework of the Virginia Department of Education’s requirements for Profile of a Virginia Graduate, incorporating the 5 C’s: Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Citizenship.

Year one CTA students work in real workplace labs and utilize soft skills to prepare them with the knowledge and certifications required for employment in southern Virginia’s manufacturing and technology industries.

“This exposure, both educationally and with hands-on training and activities, shows our students how their prospective interests can be incorporated into a real-world career,” said Stephanie Robinson, administrator of the CTA.

Students attend classes at the SVHEC from 8 a.m.-10:20 a.m., Monday-Friday, then return to their home high schools for the remainder of the instructional day.

The focus of a year two CTA student (seniors only) is to enhance the hands-on experience in the workforce through experiences including apprenticeships, internships, job shadowing or mentoring. CTA staff work collaboratively with Chambers of Commerce to partner with local businesses for student placements. CTA students continue to heighten their skills and knowledge during instructional time while applying these skills in the workplace. A CTA instructor stays in constant communication with business partners, evaluating student progress and ensuring success.

“Our ultimate goal is to introduce the new workforce to employers and begin building a relationship with the businesses and the community that we serve,” said Quiana Clark, CTA instructor.

To learn more, contact Halifax County Public Schools CTE Coordinator Dr. Debra Woltz at (434) 575-2013 or dwoltz@halifax.k12.va.us; Mecklenburg County Public Schools CTE Coordinator Megan Hendrick at (434) 738-6111 ext. 1031 or mhendrick@mcpsweb.org; Charlotte County Public Schools guidance counselor Julianna Reeves at (434) 542.4111 ext. 4120 or reevesjf@ccps.k12.va.us.

For all other questions and concerns, reach out to Stephanie Robinson, CTA administrator at (434) 572.5492 or stephanierobinson@svhec.org.