Monday, May 24, 2010

HECT Leads to High Wage Careers

James Oviatt, Beaumont High School  Class of 1991, and Emily Mastrolia, Deer Valley High School in Antioch's Class of 2009, are both former state presidents of the California organization FHA-HERO. Oviatt has since used his leadership skills gained through FHA-HERO, and those he learned in child development courses in the Home Economics Careers and Technology program at Beaumont High School, in his work as an attractions supervisor at Disneyland. Emily is now a college student, but looks forward to a promising career as an interior designer, having taken Home Economics Careers and Technology courses in that area while at Deer Valley High School. Photo by Carl Dameron

Mona Pasquil served as the acting lieutenant governor of California for eight months in 2009 and 2010. Long before then, she learned leadership and management skills by taking courses in California's Home Economics Careers and Technology program.

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) “Home Economics Careers and Technology, prepares students for high-skill, high-wage careers in related industries,” said Janice DeBenedetti, California state consultant to this program.

Home Economics Careers and Technology, a program offered in more than 750 schools in California, is part of what is known as Career Technical Education. The focus of these programs is preparing students for successful careers.

“Career Technical Education programs are geared to all students – those going on to college and later work, and those who will enter the workforce directly out of high school,” said Pat Gemma, superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District, which serves cities in the “Silicon Valley” area, including Belmont, Woodside, Atherton, San Carlos and Menlo Park. “These programs help students identify college majors and future careers, as much as it prepares students with more immediate plans to enter the work force.”

Research has identified at least 40 careers for which the Home Economics Careers and Technology program prepares its students. These careers have a range of wages, some of them bringing opportunities to earn more than $100,000 at mid-career.

For instance, with a high school diploma a young adult can work as a childcare assistant, a product demonstrator, a restaurant server or as the assistant to a hotel concierge. These jobs start at around $16,000 a year for full-time, and with experience and advanced training, the earning potential exceeds $30,000. These jobs also are often part-time jobs a college student could hold while pursuing additional education.

Careers for which Home Economics Careers and Technology and a college education prepare a student are many. Some, such as psychologist, fashion designer, financial advisor or theme park director pay average salaries of almost $150,000.

Elementary and secondary school teachers start at salaries of almost $40,000 and can earn more than $80,000. Executive and sous chefs at restaurants start at salaries of about $23,100 and earn $70,000 on average. Museum curators and hotel managers start at salaries around $28,200 and earn about $80,000 on average.

These are just some of the careers for which Home Economics Careers and Technology prepare students.

“In today’s competitive economy, even a high school graduate seeking an entry level job needs skills to succeed,” DeBenedetti said. “Home Economics Careers and Technology is designed to prepare young people for success in home economics-related occupations, and for success in their personal lives.”

“Home Economics Related Occupations, the career-oriented part of our program, provides instruction through “pathways,” which are courses of study focusing on a specific career area,” she said “The other part of our program, Consumer and Family Studies, prepares students with personal and life management skills.”

Schools offering pathways award certificates of completion to students who successfully complete them, or word the students’ high school diplomas to recognize this accomplishment. The written proof of this highly specialized training may prove as valuable as the diploma itself when the young high school graduate searches for his or her first full-time job.

Within the Home Economics Careers and Technology program, these pathways are:

  • Food service and hospitality, which prepares students for careers such as chefs or restaurant managers. It also prepares them for work in entry-level jobs such as food servers, as 90 percent of people who work for a salary in restaurants started out with an entry-level job in the food service industry.

  • Food science, dietetics and nutrition, which also prepares students for work in the food industry, but primarily in venues outside of restaurants. This includes developing new food products, creating menus for schools, hospitals and other institutions, and educating people about healthy eating.

  • Hospitality, tourism and recreation, which prepares students for jobs in the tourism industry that aren’t necessarily related to food. These careers include theme park directors, event planners, hotel managers, and travel agents.

  • Fashion design, manufacturing and merchandising, which prepares students for careers in the garment and accessories industry. Tailors, fashion designers, store buyers and apparel marketers are a few of the jobs within this industry.

  • Interior design, furnishings and maintenance, which prepares students for careers in the growing field of interior design. These include interior designers, building maintenance managers, and furniture manufacturers.

  • Child development, which prepares students for careers with young children, such as day care, or teaching preschool. Students interested in higher-wage careers such as pediatrician or child psychologist also benefit from the child development pathway

  • Education, which focuses on preparing students for careers in teaching and school administration at the elementary and high school levels.

  • Consumer services, which prepares students for work in a variety of professional fields, such as communications, customer service, financial planning, and product and development research.

  • Family and human services, which prepares students for a broad variety of jobs, such as social worker, marriage and family therapist, or substance abuse counselor. It also provides training in caring for senior citizens, which is one of the state’s fastest growing industries.

The program now known as Home Economics Careers and Technology has undergone a transformation over the last 30 years. Prior to the 1960s, the program focused on training women in skills they would need as wives and mothers. But, as more women began working outside the home, California changed its home economics curriculum to reflect this, and added the Home Economics Related Occupations component.

As all professions, including those in home economics related industries became more dependent on technology, so did the courses offered in secondary schools. To reflect this change, California renamed its home economics program Home Economics Careers and Technology in the 1990s.

There are now more than 750 schools offering Home Economics Careers and Technology courses. More than 300,000 students are enrolled in these classes throughout the state.

For more information, call Janice DeBenedetti at (916) 319-0890.