The Importance of Career & Technical Education (CTE) in Schools

Meeting 21st-century skilled workforce demands has become a challenge in the United States. According to a ManpowerGroup survey from 2021, talent shortages in the U.S. have more than tripled in the last ten years, with 69% of employers struggling to fill positions, up from just 14% in 2010.

So, how can we address this ongoing issue? 

One of the most effective ways is through implementing Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in schools. 

What is CTE?

The main goal of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs is to provide students with the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for future careers and secondary education. Most programs offer a variety of learning opportunities that touch many different industries, including STEM, healthcare, IT, business, and more.

Benefits of CTE

If you’re considering incorporating a CTE program into your school or district, here are several key benefits to take into account: 

  1. Higher graduation rates.

Students who actively participate in a CTE program are more likely to graduate. In fact, the average high school graduation rate in 2012 for CTE students was 93%, compared to the national average of 80%. 

How so? Well, CTE programs help students see the value of a good education. These programs use real-life applications so students and easily apply them to future career interests. As a result, they are more engaged and invested in their learning and education, making them more likely to graduate.

  1. Exploration of high-demand career options.

Many students who graduate or are close to graduating are unsure of what to do with their future. But incorporating a CTE program into their educational pathway will provide them more opportunities to explore a variety of career paths through hands-on learning and real-world experience. These real-world experiences can include automotive students fixing cars, welding students learning how to build parts or every young adult learning how to prepare a meal in FACS class. This type of exploration gives students an understanding of what interests them, providing a clearer path to their future career goals. 

  1. Teaches technical and employability skills.

Research shows that CTE programs not only teach students the technical skills needed to do a particular job but also those “soft” skills that are essential in today’s workforce. These soft skills include problem-solving, teamwork, time management, communication, critical thinking and more. 

Plus, CTE programs equip many students with applicable certifications and credits that put them one step closer to attaining their career goals. In 2017, 70% of high school graduates earned at least one credit in CTE. 

Incorporating CTE In Your School District

Receiving Funding

One of the biggest sources of funding for CTE programs is the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins Act). The Perkins Act offers many incentives for school districts that provide opportunities for students to participate in career-based learning and earn industry-recognized certificates. 

Need more funding? Apply for these CTE grants

Designing Learning Spaces for CTE Instruction

While a “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t usually work with CTE learning spaces, flexibility and adaptability are the main ingredients to a successful space for CTE instruction. 

The first step to ensuring flexibility and adaptability are at the forefront of your design is to choose the right furniture for the space. 

At Diversified Spaces, we offer furniture specifically designed to meet the needs of the most common skilled learning spaces.

  1. Industrial Arts. Looking to design an industrial arts classroom? From tool cabinets and workbenches to mobile carts and lumber racks, we offer a complete range of industrial arts furniture for schools. If you’re in search of a more simple workbench that will work with many different applications, check out our Forum Fixed Workbench. We also provide more industry-specific options including our Apprentice Side Clamp Bench or Apprentice Sheet Metal Bench. Whatever your needs are, we can help you choose the right furniture for your CTE learning space. 
photos of industrial arts furniture
  1. Culinary Arts. If you’re looking to furnish a culinary arts space, we can help! Our durable, steel Menu Culinary Tables come in many configurations to meet your classroom requirements. Plus we also have a matching Menu Culinary Wall Shelf for extra storage of pots and supplies. 
photo of culinary arts furniture
  1. Robotics. Believe it or not, the robotics sector saw a 70% annual increase by the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020. Because of this, providing future generations with a space to explore and learn about robotics early on in high school is now more important than ever. That’s why we’ve designed several robotics furniture options to outfit your space including workstations, workbenches, storage and more. Check out our full line of robotics furniture!
photo of robotics furniture
  1. Design, Architecture or Engineering. Many high schools offer drafting courses to help students prepare for future careers as designers, architects or engineers. When looking to design a drafting space, the most essential pieces of furniture are drafting tables. Whether you need an instructor drafting table, one with light or a unit to fit two students, we have many drafting table options available. 
photos of drafting tables

Conclusion

CTE education is needed now more than ever. By encouraging more schools to incorporate CTE education into their curriculum, future generations can use the valuable skills they’ve gained to address critical talent shortages in the United States. 

Need help outfitting your CTE space? Reach out today to get started.

White Paper: Incorporating Wood Into Hands-on Learning Spaces

Discover how wood plays a vital role in improving mental health & sustainability.

In this white paper, we take a look at:

  • What biophilic design is and how it’s become an increasingly important trend in architectural design
  • The mental health and sustainability benefits of wood
  • Why you should incorporate wood into hands-on learning environments

Download the white paper now.

4 Ways STEM Education Preps Students for 21-Century Careers

Do you know what a doctor, engineer and IT administrator all have in common? 

You guessed it: a strong background in STEM education. 

While many professionals are already pursuing a STEM career, it may be surprising to hear there’s still a huge gap that needs to be filled. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2019–29 employment projections, STEM jobs are expected to grow 8% by 2029, compared with 3.7% for all other occupations. 

This is the main reason why STEM education is crucial in today’s educational setting. To keep up with advancements in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), we need future generations to have a strong foundation in those areas. 

Even if students decide to not pursue a career in STEM, STEM education is still a useful tool to prepare students for 21-century careers. Check out the top ways STEM education gives students the core skills they need to be successful in the modern workplace. 

1. STEM education develops problem-solving skills.

Problem-solving is a must for a variety of different career paths but is even more important for STEM careers where solving problems is the entire purpose of the work. Through STEM education, students learn how to identify problems and think of possible solutions all while sharpening their critical thinking skills. 

2. STEM encourages collaboration and teamwork. 

In the real world, people are usually required to work together on projects and solve problems. With STEM education, students are introduced to collaborating with one another from an early age. As a result, these students end up thriving throughout their careers in team-oriented environments. 

3. STEM promotes creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.

Without creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, there would be many everyday inventions that wouldn’t exist. Or, think of future inventions that could be brought to life with someone with a diverse education in STEM. 

One of the many ways STEM teaches students to be innovative and creative is by making them think outside of the box. This is done by showing students different models so they get a range of ideas of how bringing together one idea might look, or by asking open-ended questions so students can come up with a solution on their own. 

4. STEM ignites curiosity. 

Another great skill students learn through STEM is curiosity. To be successful in a 21st-century career, people need to do more than just master the content. They need to look across disciplines and ask questions. They need to be innovative and learn from failures. With STEM education, students learn how to ask more intuitive questions, learn from mistakes and make educated decisions. Their passion may build, making them more likely to learn and even pursue a STEM career later on in life. 

Incorporating STEM Education Into Your School Curriculum

As you can see, STEM education is a beneficial tool to help students thrive in 21-century careers, whether they pursue a STEM career or not. Integrating important STEM concepts into your school curriculum will turn students into tomorrow’s innovators, problem solvers and critical thinkers. 

But how do you incorporate STEM education into your school curriculum? Well, it all starts by setting up learning spaces for success. At Diversified Spaces, we have a variety of classroom furniture that will help students build these valuable STEM skills. Reach out today to discover which type of furniture is right for your STEM classroom. 

Diversified Woodcrafts Hires Lisa Zeller as Marketing Manager

Suring, WI Diversified Woodcrafts is pleased to welcome Lisa Zeller as the new marketing manager. In this role, Zeller will lead all marketing activities and be responsible for creating a consistent story for each product line and brand. 

“I’m very excited to add an industry expert to our marketing team,” said Tom Franta, vice president of sales and marketing at Diversified Spaces. “Lisa brings a wealth of knowledge in all areas of marketing, including new product development and digital-first marketing.”

Before joining Diversified Woodcrafts, Zeller was a senior product marketing manager at KI where she was responsible for revenue and profit goal attainment, and led development teams for new products and product enhancements.  

Prior to KI, Zeller held other key roles throughout her career. From 2003 to 2004, she was a market manager at International Paper, and was a brand manager for Birds Eye Vegetables from 1998 to 2003.

“I’m looking forward to drawing from both product and brand marketing experience to ensure that Diversified’s customers and partners continue to value our offering,” said Zeller. “The brand has a rich heritage in skilled educational spaces and is well-positioned to use its leadership to drive growth in the years ahead.” 

Zeller has won several awards including the Neocon Gold—Systems Furniture (KI), Building Magazine Innovation Awards (KI), and Innovation and Packaging Awards (Dean Foods). 

Zeller has a bachelor’s degree in both marketing and French from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. She also holds a LEED AP Certification.

About Diversified Woodcrafts

We are the classic story. From our humble beginnings of making test tube drying racks in a basement to our 100,000-square-foot modern manufacturing plant, Diversified Woodcrafts continues to be the leading manufacturer of educational furniture, equipment and casework. If you visit schools and universities throughout the country, chances are you’ll find products from our brands – Diversified Spaces and Diversified Casework. And even though we've grown and will continue to evolve, one thing will always remain the same – our commitment to quality and exceptional customer service. 

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4 Classroom Design Tips for Back to School

Did you know? Classroom design can greatly impact how both students and teachers engage in a learning environment. In fact, one study found that the physical space of schools can positively (or negatively) affect a student’s academic performance by as much as 25% in one school year

So, how do you design a learning environment that is both functional and boosts learning performance? Check out these classroom design tips that you can utilize before students head back to school.

1. Create a collaborative space. 

Think of a typical classroom: individual desks and chairs facing the front of the room toward the teacher. It’s probably similar to the classrooms you were used to growing up. But as the years have gone by, we’ve come to the realization that students need to be taught more than just facts. Collaboration has actually been identified as one of four skills students need to excel in 21st-century careers. Students need to be able to communicate well and work together to solve problems, and our classrooms need to reflect that. 

So, how do you create a functional and collaborative space? It all starts with choosing the right type of furniture. Realistically, collaborative learning spaces should accommodate all types of learning: independent one-on-one learning, small group learning and large group learning. That’s why we recommend easy-to-move, mobile furniture. Choosing mobile furniture will allow you to easily transition between group and independent learning. Students should also have access to a variety of seating options

2. Be strategic about your color choices. 

Color is one of the most important elements of a great classroom design. Believe it or not, colors aren’t just for looks. By adding certain colors to a learning space, you can capture attention, increase alertness, create calmness and even improve learning!

For example, orange accent furniture and decor will enhance the creativity, inspiration and mood of students. Learn how other colors affect classroom learning.

3. Make the most out of natural light. 

The benefits of incorporating natural light into a learning space are endless. One of the biggest advantages of natural light is that it improves learning performance! According to California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research, classrooms with the most daylight had a 20% better learning rate in math and a 26% improved rate in reading compared to classrooms with little or no daylight. 

Natural light can also improve students’ overall health! Studies show that natural light boosts your body’s vitamin D storage, aids in healthy eye development and even improves your mood. 

With all these benefits, it’s a no-brainer that natural light should be incorporated into a classroom design. Working with a classroom that doesn’t have windows? Learn how to make the space more inviting and bright.

4. Add room for technology. 

It’s no secret that technology plays a crucial role in today’s society – especially when it comes to learning. More and more teachers are leveraging technology as a tool to stimulate curiosity and inspire students’ desire to learn. Technology isn’t going away – it’s going to continue to grow and evolve. That’s why it’s important to allow for integration within your classroom design.


Not sure where to start with your classroom design? Talk to one of our experts today.

Lab Safety Equipment Every Science Classroom Needs

Science is an excellent opportunity for students to engage in hands-on learning through fun and exciting experiments. But while it's a great space for students to collaborate and learn, they will most likely be handling dangerous chemicals and equipment at the same time. Therefore, it's imperative always to keep safety in mind, regardless of which experiments students conduct.

Here's a list of must-have lab safety equipment every science classroom needs to ensure a safe environment. 

1. Safety Stations

Accidental exposure to chemicals can happen – especially in the lab. That's why students need easy access to lab safety equipment like safety showers and eyewash stations for decontamination. At Diversified Spaces, we have an all-in-one Safety Station that has a built-in shower and eyewash station. It also features storage for other safety equipment like fire blankets, spill kits, first aid kits and fire extinguishers. 

2. First Aid Kits

Students should have access to several first aid kits throughout the lab in an emergency. These kits should include bandages, scissors, tweezers, hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment and more! Teachers should also remember to keep the kits stocked throughout the school year. While you can keep a first aid kit in our Safety Station as we mentioned previously, we also have First Aid Cabinets available to stock additional supplies. After all, it's better to have too many first aid kits than not enough!

3. Chemical Fume Hoods

If students are experimenting with chemicals of any kind, it's crucial to have a chemical fume hood. Fume hoods protect students from inhaling dangerous chemicals by drawing in vapors, gases and dust before ventilating them out of the lab. Our Chemical Fume Hood takes safety to the next level with Smart-light communication – a soft band of light that lets you know the unit is operating safely. 

4. Safety Goggles

Safety goggles are probably one of the most critical pieces of lab safety equipment! Why? They protect one of the most sensitive parts of a student – their eyes – from hazardous chemicals and materials. If you haven't decided on what type of safety goggles to purchase, consider our Flexible Goggles. Our goggles feature indirect vents that protect against liquids, dust and smoke while permitting indirect ventilation. The UV-absorbing polycarbonate lenses are also anti-fog! 

5. Fire Extinguishers

There's always a risk of fire when dealing with hazardous chemicals. That's why it's essential (and required) to stock the lab with fire extinguishers … and with the correct ones too! After all, if the right extinguisher isn't used, it may fail to put out the fire or make it worse. Discover which type of fire extinguisher your science lab needs. 

6. Fire Blankets

While nobody ever intends for their clothes to catch on fire, there's always a chance it may happen. If this incident occurs, make sure several blankets are on-hand. Students and teachers can use these blankets to either smother fires or wrap around a student whose clothes have caught on fire. 

7. Lab Coats

Lab coats will make students feel like young scientists, but they will also help prevent dangerous liquids and chemicals from contacting their skin. Even though lab coats are designed to prevent chemicals from soaking through, they should be immediately removed if a spill occurs. As an extra safety tip, lab coats should also be buttoned closed!

8. Chemical Storage Cabinets

Although handling hazardous chemicals should be done with care, they must also be stored correctly when not in use. There are many great safety benefits to keeping chemical storage cabinets in the lab. They help prevent chemical leaks from damaging property or causing injury, keep chemicals organized and in the correct place, and prevent unauthorized access. At Diversified Spaces, we have a variety of different chemical storage cabinets depending on the needs and chemicals. 

While having all of this lab safety equipment available in a science classroom is the first step to ensuring safety, it's still not enough! Students also need to keep safety their number one priority. Establish a set of general laboratory safety rules to encourage them to practice safety. 

Contact us today to discover how we can help provide lab safety equipment to help maintain a safe laboratory environment for both students and teachers.

Diversified Woodcrafts Accelerates Growth With Opening of New Location in De Pere

Suring, WI Diversified Woodcrafts, Inc. (DWI), an industry-leading manufacturer of educational furniture and casework, is excited to announce the opening of another location in De Pere, WI. 

In addition to the plant in Suring, WI and the office in Crystal Springs, MS, the new facility features more office, warehouse, showroom and assembly space, and supports the company’s growth strategy. Opening a space in the area also gives the company access to more talent in Northeast Wisconsin. 

“The De Pere facility gives us the space to display the evolution of our product,” said David Jahnke, president of DWI. “It will also allow us to expand our talent pool as we continue to grow in the future.”

Get driving directions to the new De Pere location

About Diversified Woodcrafts

We are the classic story. From our humble beginnings of making test tube drying racks in a basement to our 100,000-square-foot modern manufacturing plant, Diversified Woodcrafts continues to be the leading manufacturer of educational furniture, equipment and casework. If you visit schools and universities throughout the country, chances are you’ll find products from our brands – Diversified Spaces and Diversified Casework. And even though we've grown and will continue to evolve, one thing will always remain the same – our commitment to quality and exceptional customer service. 

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4 Ways To Improve Sustainability in the Classroom

Each year, schools and universities generate about 562,442 tons of waste just in California. Can you imagine how much waste is produced in schools and universities across the United States?

Fortunately, schools have many opportunities to turn this statistic around. There are many ways to promote sustainability that reduces waste and teaches kids about taking care of our environment. Check out our favorite ways to improve sustainability in the classroom:

1. Choose the right furniture.

One of the best ways to improve sustainability in the classroom is by choosing the right furniture. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of classroom furniture out there that isn’t made with the environment in mind.

But the good news? There are companies out there that do make environmentally-friendly classroom furniture! At Diversified Spaces, the wood we use to build our furniture is sourced from sustainably-managed forests. 

What’s sustainable forestry?

Sustainable forestry is the practice of regulating forest resources to meet the needs of society and industry while preserving the forest’s health. We ensure the wood we use comes from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and/or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Find out more about the forests we source our wood from!

You’ll also want to make sure the furniture you choose complies with MAS Certified Green®. The Materials Analytical Services, LLC (MAS) Certified Green® is an emissions testing laboratory specializing in helping companies enter the green market with low VOC emitting products. 

The program also helps consumers (like you) easily identify interior construction products, furniture, and furnishings designed and manufactured to reduce chemical VOC emissions. 

At Diversified Spaces, we’re proud to be MAS Certified Green® compliant. View our certificate and learn more about the program. 

hydroponics center

2. Plant a garden. 

Want to get your students involved? Plant a class garden. Growing a garden provides a wonderful hands-on learning experience and can also help students feel more connected to the environment. 

If you want to take it up a notch, consider teaching them about hydroponics. Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil. 

Hydroponics is also very sustainable! In fact, hydroponic systems use less water – as much as 10 times less water – than traditional field cropping water methods because the water in a hydroponic system is captured and reused.

Interested in learning more? Check out our Hydroponics Center

3. Get creative with trash.

Broken pencils, plastic bottle caps, wrappers, you name it! Trash is all around us. But instead of throwing the rubbish out, let your students get creative with it! You can do a quick Google or Pinterest search to find fun ways to repurpose them. It’s better to give the trash a second life rather than it going to a landfill. 

4. Educate through STEM activities. 

Students are the future – that’s why it’s important to teach them about sustainability at a very early age. What we teach them about sustainability now will affect their lifestyle choices in the coming years. It will allow them to take responsibility for their actions, plan for the future and maintain a healthier planet for generations to come. Here are some great STEM activities you can implement in your lesson plans to give students a chance to learn more about environmental science and sustainability. 

While incorporating sustainability into schools and classrooms may not be the easiest initiative, it is certainly achievable. Implementing the sustainable practices mentioned above will not only teach students to take care of our planet but turn them into environmentally-responsible citizens. 

Diversified Spaces Welcomes Sean McWherter as Sales and Project Coordinator

Suring, WI — Diversified Spaces is excited to announce the addition of Sean McWherter as sales and project coordinator. McWherter will be responsible for working with customers, getting measurements and discussing product options for Spaces+, previously called the Casework Assistance Program (CAP). 

“The project-based business is a rapidly growing area of Diversified Spaces,” said Tom Franta, vice president of sales and marketing at Diversified Spaces. “Sean’s 20 plus years of industry knowledge of design and environment layout will assist customers with optimal functional spaces. We are lucky to have such a wealth of knowledge join our team.”

Prior to this role, McWherter was a region manager at Diversified Casework. He was also an estimator early in his career and, most recently, assisted in customer assistance, sales and project management. 

About Diversified Spaces

Diversified Spaces does more than build educational furniture and casework. They create innovative spaces for schools and colleges to help educators inspire today’s learners. Whether a school needs a collaborative space for young scientists to experiment or an area for artists to create, Diversified Spaces has them covered. They also have the perfect combination of sizes, colors, finishes, and materials to give classrooms a fresh and modern look. The best part? All of their products are manufactured to tough SEFA standards. They also feature an earth-friendly, chemical-resistant UV finish—so schools know they’re getting top-quality furnishings when they choose Diversified Spaces.

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We’re Proud To Be MAS Certified Green® Compliant

At Diversified Spaces, protecting our environment is important! That’s why we’re proud to announce that nearly all of our products are MAS Certified Green® compliant. Our product categories include:

  • ADA
  • Art & Design
  • Casework
  • Culinary & Food Service
  • Desks
  • FACS
  • Hydroponics
  • Interactive
  • MakerSpace
  • Mobile
  • Robotics
  • Safety
  • Storage
  • Tables
  • Technical Education
  • Workbenches
  • Workstations

For more details and to see a full list of exclusions, view our MAS Certified Green® Certificate of Compliance

What is MAS Certified Green®?

Materials Analytical Services, LLC (MAS) Certified Green® is an emissions testing laboratory specializing in helping companies enter the green market with low VOC emitting products. 

The program also helps consumers (like you) easily identify interior construction products, furniture, and furnishings designed and manufactured to reduce chemical VOC emissions. 

What are VOC emissions?

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are smelly and toxic chemicals that become vapors and gases as the wood finish on furniture turns from a liquid to a solid. Inhaling these fumes is extremely dangerous and can seriously compromise human health. 

What makes us compliant with MAS Certified Green®?

Our products that comply with MAS Certified Green® are designed and manufactured to reduce chemical emissions to the indoor environment. 

These products have also passed the program’s own rigorous product testing requirements with those of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Standard Method, the BIFMA furniture sustainability standards, and formaldehyde emission testing requirements of the California EPA with the conservative chemical emissions limits referenced by the US Green Building Council LEED and CHPS. 

So, Why Choose MAS Certified Green® Compliant Products?

Choosing classroom furniture that’s compliant with MAS Certified Green® will contribute to a “healthier indoor environment” and help keep employees and students safe from dangerous VOCs.

Have more questions about MAS Certified Green®? Contact us today

What Is a Makerspace & Why Are They Important?

Educators know the importance of providing their students with hands-on learning to improve creativity, critical thinking, and STEM or STEAM skills. After all, it’s hard to ignore the importance after a study found that students who didn’t engage in hands-on learning were 1.5 times more likely to fail a course than students who did. But the good part is there are many ways to provide hands-on learning experiences, with makerspaces being one of the top choices. 

What is a makerspace?

A makerspace is a collaborative and hands-on learning environment specializing in STEM or STEAM activities. It’s a flexible space for students to explore, tinker, create, discover, invent and more! Professionals in the industry have also referred to makerspaces as tinkering labs, learning labs or STEM labs.  

Makerspace Benefits

Considering creating a makerspace in your school? If you haven’t already been convinced, here are a few of the many benefits: 

  1. Offers students an opportunity to create, innovate and explore
  2. Helps students develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
  3. Provides authentic, real-world learning experiences to help students develop real-world skills
  4. Exposes students to new opportunities like utilizing new tools and resources to reach a solution
  5. Promotes collaboration amongst peers

Makerspace Furniture Solutions

At Diversified Spaces, we’re big advocates of STEM and STEAM learning. That’s why we specialize in furniture for all skilled spaces – including versatile and mobile furniture for makerspaces. Take a look at our makerspace collection now!

If your school doesn’t already have a makerspace, it’s time. According to data from the latest national Speak Up Survey from Project Tomorrow, 31% of schools already have makerspaces of some sort while 23% have plans to implement one.

So, what are you waiting for? Let us help you create a collaborative learning space that promotes hands-on learning. Contact us today

photo of our makerspace office solutions