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When you walk into Westminster High School’s Career and Technical Education classrooms you see all students engaged in real-world activities including 3D modeling using technology, building house frames, and developing and maintaining environments for plants and fish. These career-connected learning activities help bring learning to life and prepare students with the skills needed for in-demand careers. Westminster High School offers 13 pathways that align with in-demand careers in Colorado. Examples of these pathways include bioscience, construction, agriculture, Information Technology, and culinary arts to name a few. These career-related programs provide students with a multitude of opportunities to explore their interests and develop skills that will apply to their next steps after high school, whether they go to college or straight into the workforce.  

74% of jobs today require a credential whether that be a degree, certificate, license, or certification. In 2016, 4.4 million jobs went unfilled (Credentials Matter, 2019). In order to prepare students for this reality, Westminster Public Schools participates in the Career Development Incentive Program (CDIP) offered through a partnership between the Colorado Workforce Development Council and the Colorado Department of Education.  

The Career Development Incentive Program provides money to schools whose students complete qualified industry credential programs, internships, residencies, and certain apprenticeships. The qualifying programs are industry recognized to make sure they align to a high demand job that pays a living wage and provides skills that businesses are looking for in the people they are hiring. On average, those with a credential are paid 4% more per year than those without.  

As examples of what these credentials are doing for students, a Colorado software company stated that a student graduating with an IT credential has a significant advantage in the hiring process over a student who only has a high school diploma. Students with specific construction credentials are saving companies $15,000 in training upon hire. Having the irrigation certification can set students up with a job that earns $60,000 per year upon hire. One of Westminster’s own students was hired by a major video game company before she was 18 because she obtained the IT Fundamentals certification. 

Westminster Public Schools participates in the Career Development Incentive Program to drive its educational offerings to ensure students are prepared for life after high school. They take the money they receive each year from CDIP and put it back into their programs so they can continue building their offerings. This money has gone to purchase industry-level equipment including 3D printers and has helped the district to pay for the certification exams for students. Each student who earns an industry-recognized certification is able to use that towards their graduation requirements as well. Additionally, the programs being offered to allow for career exploration for students.  

Students enrolled in these programs show pride in their work and the certification they earn. The program also helps them to develop relationships with employers who appreciate the perseverance that is shown by a student who has earned certification. In speaking with Iomy, a junior at Westminster High School who has already earned 3 information technology certifications, she talks about how her school helped her identify her career path through the Computer Science Pathway. Through these programs, Iomy is an apprentice this year with a national company and serves in a Software Quality Assurance role.  

If you have any questions or want to talk to someone about the program and the opportunities it provides please email Sandy Steiner or Lottie Wilson 


Kelly Mitchell
Education Consultant
Colorado Workforce Development Council and Department of Education