High School Educator Survey

In August 2021, we wanted to get a better understanding of academia’s perceptions and access to manufacturing opportunities. We emailed 584 Idaho high school educators, introducing ourselves and our mission with Forging Futures, asking those educators to complete a 10-15 minute survey that consisted of 20 multiple choice questions and 3 open-ended responses. The questions focused on:

  • Awareness and perceptions of manufacturing
  • Participation in career-technical education
  • Interest in 3rd party programming and various services
  • Sense of post-secondary readiness
  • Existing relationships with local industry

We plan to use the feedback to shape our content and programming for Idaho’s students and educators.

For a summer solicitation, we received a fair response of the 584 solicitations (556 unbounced). Responses came from a mix of counselors, administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals across both CTE and non-CTE sites. We also incentivized participation by selecting completed surveys to win Amazon gift cards.
When asked about awareness of opportunities in manufacturing, educators indicated that they believed students had some awareness, moreso within CTE sites. Interestingly, responses indicated that educators were less aware of manufacturing opportunities than their student body. 77% of respondents believed more students would pursue manufacturing if provided experiential learning opportunities.
After asking about awareness, we wanted to gauge perceptions regarding different components of manufacturing careers. Responses were slightly more favorable than neutral, with a few unfavorable perceptions from the non-CTE sites.
On the next questions, educators indicated that a large chunk of their students, predominantly those attending CTE sites, have no intention of going to college. With a large percentage of students gravitating towards the workforce, are they adequately prepared for their next endeavor?
Although CTE sites feel a little more confident about their students’ success, the larger sentiment is that students may not be adequately prepared for life after high school.
With the open-ended responses, we asked educators to offer thoughts on challenges they faced or needs they had to either connect students with manufacturing opportunities or prepare students for life after high school.

The key takeaways from the survey were that although educators want to make substantial workforce connections, they are typically unable because of resources, time, or bandwidth and need industry input/effort (rural schools also feel more isolated and limited). Educators believe that students are not graduating with the tools necessary for post-secondary success and want more non-baccalaureate options, coupled with conversation around how training and education would look for manufacturing careers. Lastly, awareness and capabilities are lacking among educators regarding non-traditional avenues for education/careers, and without their advocacy and guidance, some students may exit high school without a plan.

Using responses from the survey, we have tailored our presentations and online content to highlight the variety of local opportunities, educate teachers as much as students, and contextualize the significance of post-secondary readiness. The following steps would be to find champions and partners in academia, especially in rural communities, and maintain a working and communicative relationship. We are building out more resources for educators like curriculum, infographics, and videos for plug-n-play use in the classroom or extracurriculars. We also need to use the existing post-secondary toolkit and adapt it to workforce programs while expanding on work-based learning opportunities with educators and employers.

To see full feedback data: https://airtable.com/shrCt0IM66fIJN5i3/tblFVwNIQ8f8mTO9L