News & Events

CATEC Recognizes Its Career Development Offerings

Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC) is proud to recognize its career development programming during November’s National Career Development Month. CATEC makes career readiness a top priority for all 300 of its students by integrating workplace readiness opportunities throughout its 12 program areas. Along with their industry training, students work with Career Development Specialist Amanda Jay and Career Center Specialist Shannon Tomlin to gain additional professional experiences that prepare them for employment during high school or upon graduation. These career planning activities help develop employability skills, creating goals, engaging students in career exploration activities, and expanding their post-secondary opportunities.

Nurse Aid Students

Nurse Aid students, dressed professionally with resumes in hand, gather before they begin interviewing

Workplace Readiness Skills

Jay works with students to help them develop habits-of-mind for beginning their careers and create strategies for a lifetime of working. Research shows that workers will have, on average, 17 jobs during the course of their careers. Millennials change jobs about every two years. As our work world changes, people should accept that changing and losing jobs is our “new normal.” Research shows that recognizing the importance of soft skills predicts long-term life outcomes. Companies and hiring managers often rank employee’s well-developed soft skills as the most desired traits in the workforce. CATEC recognizes that soft skills are better acquired with early practice, before students enter the workforce as adults. The classroom, group approach to teaching these soft skills require social interactions amongst students in a positive and accepting environment that promotes personal growth.

CATEC’s Career Development program helps students spend time throughout the school year gaining insight into their personal interests, values, and goals to identify their work preferences to deal with this changing work environment. They recognize qualities employers want employees to possess in their industry and create personalized branding strategies to market themselves. Students create industry-specific resumes and cover letters and participate in industry-specific interview experiences. All students leave CATEC with professional skills to gain employment in their industries of choice. A recent graduate from the Cosmetology program said of her two opportunities to practice her interviewing skills, “I really like the mock interviews because it gets our feet wet without the ‘consequences.’ I really like how the interviewers give advice on what we did well and what we need to work on. I hope we continue to do these mock interviews.”

Work-Based Learning

Tomlin organizes all student work-based learning experiences, including coordination of industry credentialing, guest speakers, field trips, internships, job shadows, and apprenticeships. Additionally, she coordinates all student participation in SkillsUSA competitions, with CATEC hosting this year’s competition events. These opportunities create real-life experiences for CATEC’s students. Last year, Tomlin arranged for CATEC students to receive 1825 college credits from local community colleges. She oversaw students earning 375 Virginia Department of Education-recognized industry credentials and organized additional industry credentialing in CPR and First Aid, ServSafe Food Handler and Fire Service certifications for students in select courses. Tomlin ensured that CATEC had 100 percent student participation in at least one work-based learning opportunities last year. She has arranged for 6 Youth Registered Apprentices and numerous job shadow and internship experiences this school year. CATEC Certified Nurse Aide Instructor Mary Lou Boyd says, “Shannon Tomlin is stellar at planning for and implementing opportunities for students to prepare for post-secondary employment. She does this by initiating and implementing opportunities to continue allowing students to excel at their trade through work-based learning experiences with our community partners. This in turn, often leads to full time employment.”

Profile of a GraduateProfile of a Graduate

Efforts to ensure all CATEC students are prepared to enter the workforce align with The Profile of a Virginia Graduate’s directive for students to receive “the knowledge, skills, experiences and attributes that students must attain to be successful in college and/or the work force and to be ‘life ready.’” Half of The Profile of a Virginia Graduate’s “life ready” requirement includes career exploration and workplace skills education. Career exploration aligns knowledge, skills, and personal interests with career opportunities. Workplace skills attain and demonstrate productive workplace skills, qualities, and behaviors.

CATEC Celebrates Its Culinary Arts Program

Thanksgiving Pie Fundraiser

Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center is celebrating its Culinary Arts program this month. CATEC’s Culinary Arts program is working hard this holiday season so you don’t have to. The program is preparing pumpkin and apple pies to help alleviate baking from people’s hectic holiday schedules. Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Carol Robbs says the sale benefits community members but is also a valuable learning opportunity for students.Students hand picked apples at Carter Mountain Orchard and prepped the apples themselves for pie making.

Students pick apples to make apple pies

Students Pick Apples at Carter Mountain Orchard to Prepare Apple Pies

The CATEC Culinary Arts program is a two-year course that prepares students for work as chefs/cooks, bakers/pastry helpers, pastry decorators, dietic assistants, food demonstrators, and work in the hospitality industry. Students can earn up to 20 college credits through CATEC’s dual-enrollment agreement with Piedmont Virginia Community College. Students graduate from the Culinary Arts program with many credentials, including ServSafe Food Handler and ServSafe Manager and CPR and First Aid.

Students Earn College Credits as They Cook

Students earning college credit study principles of Culinary Arts, sanitation and safety, nutrition for food science, preparations of stocks, soups, sauces, fruits, vegetables, and starches, and principles of baking. Students can easily transition to PVCC’s Culinary Arts program. This post-secondary program blends professional and technical courses with hands-on training. The 67-credit program allows students to graduate with an Associate of Applied Science. Graduates will be able to enter the workforce as chefs, sous chefs, pastry chefs, or personal chefs in restaurants, hotels, resorts, or country clubs. Nationally, including Virginia, prospective students in the culinary industry can expect job growth.

In October, the CATEC Culinary Arts program received a grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation’s Environmental Education Stewardship Grants Program. Culinary Arts will use the grant for its new learning space, CATEC Culinary Commons, a garden area that will include six raised garden beds, greenhouse, outdoor dining area, and indoor hydroponics garden. The organic produce grown in the gardens will be used by CATEC’s Culinary Arts program.

Exciting Work-Based Learning Events

CATECs Innovative Food Bus Travels to Local Events

CATEC Director Stephanie Carter says “like our food bus, Technical Eats, Culinary Arts is the hub of an exciting interdisciplinary project.” In 2017, the Culinary Arts program launched its school bus-turned-food bus project that allows students to prepare and serve food in a unique environment. Created as a schoolwide project, Technical Eats now travels to different community events around Charlottesville, including the TomTom Festival, Dogwood Festival, Albemarle County’s 275th Anniversary celebration, and scheduled fundraising activities at Whole Foods.

It’s National Apprenticeship Week! How CATEC Students Learn Through Apprenticeships

Male student uses electric drill on bottom of the table

Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC) is excited to highlight its adult and high school Apprenticeship programs during National Apprenticeship Week. Now in its fifth year, National Apprenticeship Week brings together businesses, communities, and educators to showcase opportunities available through apprenticeship programs.

Teenaged apprentice with instructor looking at car engineCATEC’s Apprenticeship programs consistently serves more than 200 apprentices each semester and the numbers are growing.  Apprenticeship coursework covers a range of technical education courses. Apprenticeship and Adult Programs Coordinator Deborah Gannon says “the training courses help apprentices learn the theory behind the trade while also increasing their technical skills and providing opportunities for hand-on learning.” The apprenticeship programs are approved by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry and provide employer-sponsors and their employees with required related technical instruction hours needed to satisfy a full apprenticeship program. There are currently 55 local businesses that send apprentices to CATEC for instruction. The largest number of apprentices attending CATEC’s Apprenticeship training courses are employed by the University of Virginia Facilities Management, Design Electric, Albemarle Heating and Air, Moore’s Electrical and Mechanical, and Robertson Electric. In recent years 21 CATEC graduates have returned to continue learning through its adult Apprenticeship training courses.

Virginia Registered Apprenticeship Program

The Virginia Registered Apprenticeship program is an employment training model that produces highly skilled workers to meet the demands of local employers. Through a combination of on-the-job training, work-based instruction, and industry-recognized credentials, the program meets the needs of nearly 2,000 Virginia employers using custom curriculum to train their workforce. Registered Apprentices complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of supervised on-the-job training and a minimum of 144 hours of related technical instruction for each year of apprenticeship, averaging four years. Successful completion of the Registered Apprenticeship Program earns the apprentice nationally recognized state certification as a Journeyperson. All apprentices are registered through the Department of Labor and Industry apprenticeship consultant.

Registered Apprenticeships are also available to high school juniors and seniors. CATEC currently has six students working as Youth Registered Apprentices, including four from its Electrical program, one in Carpentry, and one in the Auto Service Technology program. Additionally, CATEC has two high school Electrical students who, as 18-year-olds, are Registered Apprentices. Youth Registered Apprenticeships integrate school-based and work-based learning to help students gain employability and industry-specific skills. Students are enrolled in career and technical education classes and regular high school classes. Additionally, they are hired as registered apprentices and complete work-based learning experiences through their local employer. Businesses, workforce professionals, and educators see Youth Registered Apprenticeships as an effective way to start high school students on a career path that leads to good wages and advancement opportunities.

Helping Bridge Businesses’ Needs

High School Data Career Coordinator Shannon Tomlin says “our skilled trades industries are facing a severe worker shortage. The Youth Registered Apprenticeship program bridges the needs of our current business partners and our future workforce.” According to the Department of Labor, after apprenticeship completion, 94% of employees retain employment. Since January 2017, there have been more than 583,000 new apprenticeships.

UVA Historical Mason Fondly Remembers CATEC Education

Daisy works on masonry project

CATEC Masonry alumna Daisy Maine knew in seventh grade that she wanted to learn a trade. Recognizing early on that college was something she would not pursue, she understood that if she worked really hard to learn a skilled trade, she would be successful. In 2007, Daisy began studying in Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center’s (CATEC) Masonry program.

She says of her CATEC masonry training: “I truly enjoyed every moment and can never forget the wonderful friends and amazing support system I gained by being there that led me to where I am now.” Daisy fondly remembers her now-retired Masonry teacher Jesse Mills. She says, “Mr. Mills was the best. He was one of a kind and always knew what to say and how to teach every individual.” Mills remembers Daisy as a student who “was always eager and determined. She wanted to learn all that she could.”

Putting Her CATEC Masonry Training to Work

Upon high school graduation, Daisy says with her three years of CATEC training, she had enough experience and interest in the masonry field to easily enter the workforce. She remembers that current Apprenticeship and Adult Programs Coordinator Deborah Gannon, who in 2009 was CATEC’s Career and Instructional Technology Coordinator, “never gave up on helping me overcome life’s obstacles and was very persistent in helping me find a job. She was the one who found my first job opening at the University of Virginia. I never would have applied if it wasn’t for her persistence.”

Gannon has known Daisy for 12 years and says, “she is a strong woman, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. She ventured into a non-traditional career field while still in high school and excelled in that field.”

Daisy’s first job at UVA was as a Masonry, Plastering, and Drywall Apprentice. As an Apprentice through UVA’s Facilities Management department, she apprenticed for four year, studying masonry and plastering. She worked as a full-time University employee with salary and benefits while she gained on-the-job training with licensed journeymen, mentors, and supervisors and received classroom training.

Repairing Historic Buildings on “The Lawn”

Daisy working on a plaster project

Daisy’s first job at UVA was as a Masonry, Plastering, and Drywall Apprentice

Upon completion of her apprenticeship, she has continued working at UVA’s Facilities Management, first as a mason for two years and then as an Historic Mason. She says, “Every day at UVA is cool. I work with a small group of knowledgeable individuals.” Working as a team of seven, they repair 200-year-old brick, lime mortar and plaster around Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village. UVA’s “The Lawn,” part of the Academical Village, is designated a United States National Historic Landmark District and is part of UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its architectural and cultural significance. She has also worked on masonry projects at UVA’s Scott Stadium. Daisy says an exciting part of this work is discovering and documenting “things most never will see and learning new things every day.”

As Daisy settles comfortably into her career, she has been able to translate her unique position as a woman in a male-dominated industry into advocating for other young women interested in entering the skilled trades. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports a 17 percent increase in women working in construction, the highest percentage the industry has seen in 20 years.

Daisy says, “I am a strong supporter for women in the trades. There aren’t enough in it today. But I know young women will see that construction trades are not just for men and we can do it too.” Daisy uses the positive mentorship she experienced herself to advocate for women entering the trades. She says, “I met some of the most influential and supportive people in my life at CATEC. It was the staff that cared and helped every student as much as they could.”

Design Electric and Square D Donate Materials to Electrical Programs

CATEC electrical students learn in an under construction house

Design Electric and Square D by Schneider Electric have generously donated electrical equipment to Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center’s (CATEC) Electrical programs. The donations will allow CATEC’s Adult Education and High School Electrical programs to perform more hands-on activities.

Help Meet Programming Needs

CATEC’s original building design was not meeting current programming needs. However, the new equipment will allow CATEC to increase building power, making it feasible to add more HVAC units and electrical stations to classrooms for student use.

Design Electric donated a transformer, panel, disconnect, conduit, wire, fittings, mounting hardware, and installation materials. Design Electric is a growing electrical contractor specializing in large projects in central and western Virginia. It recently employed four CATEC High School Building Trades and Electrical students to work as Youth Registered Apprentices. These apprentices work for Design Electric, gaining real-world work experience while getting high school credit. Design Electric’s Casey Carwile says they donated the materials because “we are committed to hands-on electrical education in the area for apprentices and students who want to make a career of the electrical trade.” Square D by Schneider Electrical donated QO panel boards, interiors and trim, and breakers. Square D by Schneider Electrical is a national producer of electrical components including switchgear, breakers, transformers, and control systems.

Training a New Generation of Electrical Workers

CATEC’s Electrical programs provide students with skills to install, operate, maintain, and repair residential, commercial, and industrial electrical systems. Students study electrical theory and navigate the National Electrical Code Book. Adult Apprenticeship Electrical students take coursework related to alternating current and grounding, load calculations and distribution, and practical applications and basic electronic theory. High School Electrical students receive 9 college credits from Piedmont Virginia Community College. Students in the Electrical program are OSHA-10 certified and receive certifications in NCCER curriculum.

Design Electric’s Carwile is thankful for all CATEC is doing to bring electrical workers into the workforce. He says “thanks for all that you are doing at CATEC to teach the next generation of workers. Thanks again also for the chance you have given us to assist with the electrical learning process.”

It’s National Veterinary Technician Week: Meet Our Newest Program

CATEC students pet goats on farms

CATEC is excited to be celebrating its newest program for National Veterinary Technician Week! CATEC’s Veterinary Assistant program is a natural step for students interested in becoming veterinary technicians. CATEC’s Veterinary Assistant class introduces students to the technical knowledge and skills necessary for success in careers pertaining to animals. This includes pet care industries, government agencies, laboratory research institutions, pharmaceutical occupations, veterinary medical assisting and technology, and postsecondary education. Students learn about veterinary science in a classroom setting, simulated small animal veterinary hospital, and on-site visits.

students dressed in scrubs and masks

Veterinary assistant students show off their scrubs.

Last year, students took a field trip to the Richmond Zoo so they could study the ethics of zoos and their wildlife programs. The class also visited Open Gate Farm to interact with chickens, turkeys, pigs, goats, and rabbits and students studied the farm’s heritage pork operation. Many animals also made guest appearances in the classroom, including a pigeon, family dogs, and pet goats.

Veterinary Assistant students receive 12 college credits through Blue Ridge Community College. Credits include coursework in veterinary assisting, care and maintenance of small domestic animals, veterinary office assisting, and companion animal behavior. Students who satisfactorily complete the program also receive the Blue Ridge Community College Career Studies Certificate in Veterinary Assisting concurrent with high school graduation. CATEC also supports student students as they take the Certified Veterinary Assistant test through American Allied Health. For the 2018-2019 school year, CATEC had a 93% pass rate.

CATEC’s Veterinary Assistant students pose with their homemade treats.

Upon graduation from the program, students can enter the industry as a Veterinary Assistant, assisting vets by setting up equipment, preparing animals for treatment, and keeping records. Projected job growth in Virginia for Veterinary Assistants is nearly 20% and Virginia wages align with the national wage average. Several students who graduated from the program last year are working in area veterinary clinics. Two alumni are working as Laboratory Animal Care Technicians for The McConnell Group, a company that supports media research for human and veterinary health and contracts with a UVA research lab.

News & Events

  • November 25: Southwest Cosmetology Festival
  • November 27-29:  Thanksgiving Break
  • December 10: Center Board Meeting 6:00
  • December 23, 2019: January 3, 2020: Winter Break
  • January 17, 2020: End of Second Marking Period
  • January 20, 2020: No School
  • January 21, 2020: Teacher Work Day
  • January 21, 2020: Center Board Meeting