Coming Together with CTE

It is hard to imagine anything good coming from the devastating winds and rain of Hurricane Irma or similar storms that ravaged homes and communities this past hurricane season. If you look hard enough, though, you can find unexpected positives even in the worst experiences.

As a member of the Florida Army National Guard, I was activated during Hurricane Irma, and there I had the fortunate, first-hand experience of seeing people come together to help others. Most of these people were actively using skills found in CTE (Career and Technical Education) courses: both soft and hard skills.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are specific skills that can be both defined and measured (e.g. typing, math, carpentry, speaking a foreign language, data analysis, etc.). Florida Virtual School has many CTE courses that focus on the hard skills I saw being used in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

People used design skills (Digital Information Technology) to create presentations and maps that shared crucial information and locations with others. Law enforcement (Criminal Justice) used those maps to locate and assign sites that needed enforcement of social control and to deter criminal activity. Web designers (Foundations of Web Design and User Interface Design) worked with both designers and law enforcement to create web pages that informed the public and kept everyone safe with accurate and up-to-date information.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are personal characteristics people exhibit in the workplace (e.g. teamwork, communication, flexibility, problem solving, etc.). Like hard skills, soft skills can be learned, but are much harder to define and measure. Of course, all of the Florida Virtual School CTE courses have soft skills built into the curriculum.

During Hurricane Irma, everyone benefited from the soft skill of technological awareness (Digital Information Technology). This included specific abilities to write reports with word processors, manage data on spreadsheets, use technology to research information, and communicate through electronic methods like email. I also saw people coming together to solve problems using computational thinking (Foundations of Programming). Computational thinking is the ability to visualize, analyze, and generalize solutions into steps, which is essential to computer programming during emergency situations.

This is not an all-inclusive list of the hard and soft skills that people used to help each other. Many skills naturally require other skills. For example, computational thinking requires soft skills of collaboration, communication, working under pressure, listening, and critical thinking.

Whether in an emergency situation or just succeeding in a traditional workplace, how can you be prepared? The CTE courses in this post are a great place to start or build upon your existing hard and soft skills!


Learn more about our Digital Information Technology course here:

Learn more about our Foundations of Programming course here:


Michael FrancisMichael is a Curriculum Specialist with the Career & Technical Education (CTE) Digital Publishing Team. He earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and recently joined the FLVS team after 13 years of CTE experience in Palm Beach County. Michael has served 17 years in the Army National Guard and is an avid runner and musician.



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