Lakeland University and Lakeshore Technical College are partnering to address one of Wisconsin's most significant education challenges – the shortage of technology education teachers – in a move that Lakeland plans to take statewide.
Lakeland has added a technology education (tech ed) bachelor's degree program in an effort to provide more applicants for a marketplace that has more demand than supply.
Lakeland becomes one of four state colleges and universities to offer a technology education teaching degree, and the only institution in northeastern Wisconsin.
"We are well aware of the shortage of tech ed teachers in Wisconsin, and the struggles school districts are having filling these important roles," said Lakeland President David Black. "Our goal is to partner with our friends in higher education to leverage our strengths and address this concern."
This spring, Black will meet with additional technical college leaders and present plans to expand the program across the state.
Degree-seeking students will enroll at Lakeland, where they will take the majority of their classes, including Lakeland's early childhood through adolescence (K-12) professional sequences courses. Students will also take 30 core technology credits at LTC, learning on state-of-the-art equipment.
Students will select one of eight emphasis areas: engineering, information and communication technology, electronics, architecture and construction, transportation, power and energy, biotechnology and environmental technologies.
Enrollment in the program, which has been approved by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, is underway.
"The new technology education degree program expands on the great partnership LTC has with Lakeland," said LTC President Michael Lanser. "By leveraging the unique strengths of both institutions, we can provide a pipeline of quality tech ed instructors to our K-12 partners, as well as support a new career opportunity for students in northeastern Wisconsin."
For students interested in becoming teachers, tech ed jobs will be a growth area for several years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of career and technical education teachers is projected to grow 9 percent through 2022.
Retirements and low enrollments in education programs that prepare STEM teachers are the main contributors to the problem.
Howards Grove School District Superintendent Chris Peterson said his district's recent tech ed teacher search was difficult, as it netted few candidates after a lengthy search. He said districts around the state will welcome a program that produces more qualified applicants.
"The biggest need in tech ed is teachers who can meet the needs of local employers," Peterson said. "Manufacturing is such an important part of the local economy, and who better to partner to prepare tech ed teachers than LTC and Lakeland?
"The key is finding skilled teachers who will stay for five or 10 years and help us build a program. We need forward-thinking teachers who can design curriculum that will meet emerging needs, including jobs that haven't been created yet. We need teachers who will get young people excited about careers in tech ed."
Not only will graduates of Lakeland's program be licensed technology education teachers; they'll also be able to teach dual credit technology courses offered at the high school level.
"Increasingly, Wisconsin high schools are offering courses that allow students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously," Black said. "Parents and students are seeking out these options as ways to cut down on the cost of higher education and get ahead before graduating from high school. It's also a great way for high school students to test career paths."
There are several pathways students can take to enter into this program:
- Recent high school graduates who want to become teachers and understand there is a strong chance they'll be employed quickly after graduating
- Current teachers looking for something different in their teaching career
- Professionals working in a technical industry who are interested in a new career
To learn more about the program, visit Lakeland.edu/teched.