Historically, Career and Technical Education (CTE) was perceived as training for students to pursue careers in welding, agriculture or other industrial fields. However, as the workforce has transitioned into a digital-centric world, CTE has expanded its offerings to up-and-coming industries such as social media marketing.
The evolution of CTE
Dating back to the late nineteenth century, CTE has been a fixture within the education system. The momentum and demand for CTE consistently grew during the industrial revolution, World War I and World War II—ultimately it became a mainstream education initiative in the middle of the twentieth century. The opportunity to gain trade-based skills with CTE led many students to bypass higher education in pursuit of more industrial fields.
Over the last decade, CTE has evolved to encompass many more fields, such as IT, business, finance, forensic science and even social media. Modern technology has transformed the workforce, creating career paths that have never existed. These new fields subsequently created new demands for the education system. CTE answered the call.
The technology explosion not only expanded course offerings in CTE, but also transformed the way CTE is delivered. In my role as vice president of brand management at CEV Multimedia, a provider of online learning curriculum for CTE students, I have seen this shift take place first hand. As a company, we began creating curriculum in traditional CTE areas, but to meet the evolution of CTE, now four of our seven curriculum areas are in non-traditional CTE fields.
Developing the social media marketing curriculum
We are in constant communication with public relations, advertising and marketing professionals and noticed a common theme when discussing social media—it’s intertwined with almost every aspect of their work. Considered part of the public relations field, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a six-percent growth in social media between 2014-24. As we dug further, those professionals explained the skill gap the industry is facing. They noticed a significant difference between what students are being taught in the classroom and what employers expect entry-level professionals to know about social media.
It’s an exciting time for CTE educators and professionals to work together to address this gap to prepare students for a growing career field. Considered part of the public relations field, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a six-percent growth in social media between 2014-24. Because after all, applying a filter to an Instagram post or having a funny “Game of Thrones” tweet does not mean a student can execute a sophisticated social media strategy.
To help fill the skill gap, we worked with social media professionals to create social media marketing curriculum. This program includes 19 lessons covering the most basic components, as well as some of the intricacies of the online phenomena. Students complete the lessons and are then assessed in the following areas:
- Social media as a marketing mechanism
- Ethics and laws
- Mobile marketing
- Social media campaign creation, implementation and evaluation
The perfect tool for social media marketing instruction
Social media marketing was somewhat uncharted territory for CEV but as we developed the program further, we realized it’s a perfect fit. The mere fact that our curriculum is solely administered online suits the topic, not to mention the ability to make constant updates.
Like many CTE courses, social media marketing utilizes technology which is continuously changing. For example, a 2010 social media marketing textbook would not discuss Snapchat, live video or the importance of analyzing data. Instead of constantly trying to secure funding to purchase new textbooks, educators with our curriculum are able to utilize updated courses with the most relevant content for their students.
The way businesses use social media has changed over the years. At first, social media was a place to stay in touch with friends and post pictures. Now it is that and much more. For many businesses, it is a key tenet of their marketing strategy. I have experienced this at iCEV as we now use social media channels to share product news with customers, answer questions and advocate for the CTE industry as a whole.
Taking social media marketing education a step further
The next step is developing an industry-backed certification for students who demonstrate expertise in social media marketing.
These industry-backed certifications are created as a result of our partnership with established industry partners. The curriculum is developed further and culminates in a comprehensive assessment for students. Once students master the curriculum and pass the exam, they earn a certification recognized by the industry partner. Industry-backed certifications give students a competitive advantage when pursuing their college and career goals. For other subject areas, we work with companies such as Southwest Airlines, Elanco, Express Employment Professionals and Bayer CropScience to develop certifications for their industry and strengthen to talent pool of future employees.
Going forward, industries are going to continue to change and so is the way that students are educated. For many industries, the changes are happening so fast that schools can’t keep up. With the help of online CTE curriculum, students continue to receive the education they deserve and simultaneously earn industry approval before graduation to become the next generation of social media marketers.