Lincoln Trail College Celebrates Career and Technical Education Month

Feb 01, 2024

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, and Lincoln Trail College along with community colleges all over will be celebrating and recognizing their CTE programs that successfully prepare students as they enter the workforce. 

CTE programs often differentiate themselves from others by providing a more hands-on opportunity for students as they learn and gain experience before joining their respective industries. 

IECC Chief Academic Officer Paul Bruinsma shared that CTE programs often offer unique flexibility that is not provided by most other programs. 

“These programs allow students to gain the knowledge and experience necessary in a short amount of time to be able to begin their career. They can continue their education, of course, but these programs prepare them to meet all the qualifications necessary to be employed after completion,” said Bruinsma.  

As CTE programs thrive, state funding continues to help sustain and build upon that success, as over $50 million in Perkins Grant Award money was provided to Illinois CTE programs in FY23, according to the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Dr. Jared Gullett is the lead instructor for Lincoln Trail College’s Health Careers Program. He says the Certified Medical Assistant program provides students with a good mix of classes, which offers students a lot of flexibility. 

“We have a good mixture of online and face-to-face courses in the program. So, if you’re working, if you have children and you know your schedule doesn’t allow you to come to school every day during the day, we have options that can really get you through. We also offer a lot of hands-on learning in our face-to-face classes.”

The hands-on learning is one of the things that attracted Abigail Ramsey to LTC’s welding program.

“I love the projects, but I also really like the things we learn,” said Ramsey, who is planning to pursue mechanical engineering. “I love getting to learn hands-on stuff and I like being able to do stuff that’s not like a normal classroom where it’s just a pencil and paper. I love having a little bit of creative liberty with what I’m doing. I also love math and I get to interpret math into what I’m doing.”

Kylar Wortsell, who like Ramsey is a fourth-generation welder, says the instructors are very attentive and give students like her lots of one-on-one attention.

“If you have any questions, they’re always there for you. If you’re working on projects, they’re right next to you. If you have any questions you want to talk about, even if it is not school-related, they’re going to be there for you. They always listen and you never have to worry if you don’t understand something because they’re going to help you understand it.”

The Department of Education reported that eight years after their expected graduation date, students who focused on CTE courses had higher median annual earnings than the students who did not.

According to the National Skills Coalition, two-thirds of jobs in the U.S. economy are middle-skill jobs that require education beyond high school but not a four-year college degree. Many of these jobs are in CTE fields such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and IT which are among the fastest-growing occupations projected through 2029 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

CTE programs at Illinois community colleges offer a cost-effective way for individuals to pursue their career goals by costing a fraction of the tuition at four-year institutions, making it a more accessible option for many students. 

"Illinois community colleges have a long history of working with local businesses and industries to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today's workforce," said Brian Durham, Executive Director of the Illinois Community College Board. "CTE programs at community colleges are an essential part of our state's workforce development strategy, and we are proud to be a part of preparing the next generation of workers." 

For more information regarding Lincoln Trail College’s CTE programs, visit