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Opinion: Technical education in today’s world

Now, more than ever, the world is calling upon young people to lead through the unpredictability and turmoil that has characterized the last year-and-a-half.

More than ever, young people are answering that call. Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) is a national, nonprofit, Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) that has fostered the development of young community leaders for the past 77 years. Through its focus on Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) education – formerly known as “home economics” – FCCLA has ensured that students around the country are prepared to take the world by storm, even in a pandemic.

Family and Consumer Sciences education focuses on the development of academic knowledge, technical ability, problem-solving and employability skills through the study of four main career pathways: Hospitality and Tourism, Human Services, Visual Arts and Design, and Education and Training.

Through hands-on courses involving fashion, culinary arts, child growth and development, and financial literacy, among others, students learn skills that will allow them to flourish in these areas and beyond.

Acquired skills include applied academic skills, technology use, and communication, all of which prepare students for post-secondary training, professional careers, and the challenges they will face upon adulthood.

So at surface level, what might seem like humble FCS activities is actually the creation of the next generation of leaders.

     The past 18 months have been difficult, to say the least. Nevertheless, FCCLA and FCS courses have prepared members to face the challenges brought about by the pandemic, political disputes, and social unrest head on. Take quarantine, for example: the world shut down, but having to stay at home compelled members to rely on critical and creative thinking skills learned from FCS classes to find innovative solutions to their limitations.  With virtual chapter meetings, socially-distanced service projects, competitive events, and online conferences, members were able to make their FCCLA experience as close to “normal” as possible.

And, with so many pandemic-related issues, community service was booming. For example, the chapter at John P. Stevens High School in Edison served the community by sewing masks for the elderly, making cards for health professionals, and hosting a socially-distanced clothing drive.

Lastly, FCCLA has taught students to effectively use their voices and their skills in support of the causes that they care about at a time when the world really needs to hear them. Communication and interpersonal skills acquired from FCS courses, together with FCCLA’s peer education and advocacy programs, have ensured that students are well prepared to stand up for what they believe in and make their voices heard.

Despite the numerous challenges that have been thrown their way, FCCLA members and FCS students have never been stronger. So, as the world looks to its youth, it is this group of young people that truly stands out, not just as the architects of the future, but also the leaders today.

Jacquelyn Trotman 
State President  
New Jersey FCCLA 
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