National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

Getting to Know … Idaho

September 21st, 2015

Note: NASDCTEc has launched a new blog series called, “Getting to Know …” We are using this series to help our readers learn more about specific states, State CTE Directors, our partners and more. Check out our entries about Florida and Michigan!

State Name: Idahocte-logo-idaho

State CTE Director: Dwight Johnson, Administrator, Professional-Technical Education

About Idaho: CTE in Idaho is known as Professional-Technical Education, or PTE. The Division of Professional-Technical Education is responsible for secondary, postsecondary and adult PTE programs. PTE is delivered at the secondary level through high schools and magnet schools. At the postsecondary level, there are three community colleges, one standalone technical college and two technical colleges that are embedded within the state’s four-year universities – all with PTE programs.

With the belief that PTE sits at the nexus of education and the workforce, Johnson has been using his years of experience at the Department of Labor to strengthen connections between secondary and postsecondary PTE programs and the workforce. This starts with an intensive realignment process of secondary and postsecondary CTE programs, which will help to provide a seamless educational experience for Idaho students and best prepare them for success in their careers. Check out just a few facts about Idaho PTE here!

Notable in Idaho: Idaho has been working to expand student access to PTE programs of study through its soon-to-launch PTE Digital, which allows students to take PTE courses in health and IT. Johnson said PTE is looking to expand these options to other pathways to create more opportunities, particularly for students located in very rural areas.

Additionally, in 2014, the Idaho legislature established the Fast Forward program, which provides junior and senior high school students with up to $200 and $400, respectively, to help cover the cost of taking dual credit courses, PTE-approved industry certification exams and college-bearing exams. The program has been so successful that costs have far exceeded original projections, as more and more students take advantage of the opportunity to earn advance credit and certifications.

Finally, the Department is developing a microcertification and badging effort called SkillStack. The initiative has two primary goals: to validate students’ technical skills and competencies against industry-defined standards and to help with the articulation of credit from secondary PTE programs to postsecondary institutions. Idaho educators can track and validate student skill attainment through the site, once the Department verifies that the curriculum taught was aligned to industry standards. Soon, employers will be able to search for candidates with the badges, and skills, that they need.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Inside International CTE: CTE From an International Employer Perspective

September 15th, 2015

Our previous international blog posts have largely focused on international Career Technical Education (CTE)/Vocational education systems and how they operate. Today, we will look at CTE through the lens of an international employer in an interview with Aaron Coulson, New Talent Manager at National Grid in the UK. This is part of our ongoing blog series with Asia Society’s Global Learning Blog on Education Week. 

Can you describe a little bit about your company and your need for global talent?

National Grid is an international electricity and gas company based in the UK and northeastern U.S. As owners and operators of the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales and the high pressure gas transmission system in Britain, we are committed to safeguarding our global environment for future generations and providing all our customers with the highest standards of service through investment in our networks and through our talented, diverse workforce.

In my role working with Our Academy, our largest training center in the UK, I am responsible for all of National Grid’s entry-level talent development programs, an integral component of the company’s ‘grow your strategy,’ that helps develop the skills and knowledge of new employees in the company. The following best outlines our focus areas:

  • Providing the resources and support they need to develop and build on the wealth of experience and talent that already exists across the organization.
  • Attracting and retaining high-quality employees.
  • Developing new talent through apprenticeships, our graduate training program and engineer training program.
  • Supporting the development of our employees in order to ensure the future success of our organization.

Our Academy has garnered much recognition for our approach to developing new talent and our training programs receive a high number of applicants per year.

Read more about National Grid’s role in the UK CTE system including their work developing new employer-led apprenticeship standards and advice for organizations who want to engage in the field on Education Week’s Global Learning blog.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

CTE Research Review: Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs

August 27th, 2015

In the past few weeks, a number of studies have been released focusing on jobs and careers. Below is a quick rundown of some of the most salient reports.

The U.S. Departments of Education, Labor and Transportation: Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways across the Transportation Industry
This joint report, building on the collaboration across these agencies to better align career pathways initiatives and efforts, details the potential employment opportunities throughout the transportation industry, broken down by subsectors, occupations, career areas and geography. A core finding is that transportation industry employers are expected to hire and train roughly 4.6 million workers, an equivalent of 1.2 times the current workforce, to meet the needs of growth, retirement and turnover in the next decade.

Jobs for the Future: Promising Practices in Young Adult Employment
Jobs for the Future has released a series of three briefs to support ways in which education, employers and workforce development can better collaborate to combat the chronic high unemployment of our youngest adults. They released case studies on an EMT Career Pathway program in New Jersey; automotive and manufacturing Career Pathways in Wisconsin and Virginia; and a multi-disciplinary career exploration program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, each of which detail the specific actions taken by employers and workforce development leaders.

Center on Education and the Workforce: Good Jobs Are Back: College Graduates Are First in Line
The latest report from Georgetown’s Center for Education and the Workforce focuses on how many of the jobs created since the Great Recession are “good jobs,” which according to the Center:

  • Pay more than $53,000 annually for a full-time, full-year worker (more than 26% above the median earnings of all full-time, full-year workers, which is $42,000), and
  • Typically are full-time (86%), offer health insurance (68%), and provide an employer-sponsored retirement plan (61 percent).

CEW Good JobsThe report finds that 2.9 million of the 6.6 million jobs added over the Recovery are “good jobs,” most of which require at least a bachelor’s degree. Consistent with many of the Center’s other reports, “Good Jobs Are Back” finds that individuals with a high school diploma or less as the most likely to suffer during and beyond the Recession and Recovery.

Young Invicibles: Best Jobs for Millennials
Focusing on careers that will provide millennials with the greatest opportunities, Young Invincibles analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics data using three criteria: projected occupation growth by 2022, median wage and “Millennial share,” or the percentage of the total jobs in that occupation held by young adults aged 18-34. Based on the criteria and a ranking system, the report found that physician assistants, actuaries, statisticians, biomedical engineers and computer and information research scientists were the five best jobs out there for young adults. Across the list of the 25 best jobs identified, over half are “STEM” and nearly all require some education and training beyond high school, a number of which require less than a four-year degree.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

Excellence in Action: Upper Valley Career Center

August 19th, 2015

The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program of study at Upper Valley Career Center (UVCC) in Piquo, OhioIMG_7816 is entering its 20th year as strong as ever. Winners of the 2015 Excellence in Action award in the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster, and recent attendees of the Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education event at the White House, UVCC’s HVAC program of study is a true model program with extensive job placement opportunities, exemplary partnerships and strong alignment with multiple college degrees and certification programs.

In 2014, 100 percent of students, almost half of which are low income, earned postsecondary credit and an industry recognized credential, and graduated high school. This feat is in due in part to the over 40 engaged organizations that provide curriculum support, internships for students, externships for teachers and donate time and equipment. “It has been a rewarding to see this program grow in size and achievement, but equally gratifying to see so many students of the program grow into adulthood as successful, professional contributors to the HVACR industry,” said Ken Monnier, VP, A/C Engineer at one of UVCC’s most dedicated employer partners, Emerson Climate Technologies.

UVCC will be featured during a session at the Association for Career and Technical Education’s annual CareerTech VISION conference in New Orleans, LA in November. Don’t miss the chance to hear from this best practice program and register for the conference today. You can also learn more about UVCC’s HVAC program here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

August 14th, 2015


Putting a Spotlight on Technical and Vocational Skills
Despite the projected demand for skilled trade jobs in the next decade, little attention, support or funding is lacking for Career Technical Education students. To shine a light on this area of education, WorldSkills hosted their 43rd WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The USA sent 18 students who competed with 70 other countries in areas such as manufacturing and heavy vehicle equipment maintenance.
Read More

Integrating Employability Skills into Everyday Instruction
On Wednesday, September 2nd, join the College and Career Readiness and Success Center, Center on Great Teachers and Leaders and RTI International for a webinar highlighting the new learning module, Integrating Employability Skills: A Framework for All Educators focusing on how educators can integrate employability skills into their curriculum.

Achieve launched the Rising to the Challenge: Views on High School Graduates’ Preparedness for College and Careers. This PowerPoint breaks down their most recent survey of college instructors and employers who work with recent high school graduates and their career readiness into easy to read graphs and graphics.
Read More

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

August 7th, 2015


Educators Rising launched a brand new website this week, which provides resources and professional development opportunities to students in high school who want to be successful teachers.

How to Attract and Retain More of the Right Students Right Now!
Join a webinar August 17th featuring Mark Perna, Founder of Tools for Schools who will discuss how to increase enrollment, retention and performance rates of high school and adult learners. If you like the webinar, you’ll get a chance to participate in a workshop led by Perna at the Association for Career and Technical Education’s VISION conference in New Orleans.

Building a Strong Relationship Between Competency-Based Pathways and Career Technical Education
Earlier this week we released a report identifying the relationship between Competency-Based Pathways (CBP) and Career Technical Education (CTE) along with guiding questions for state and local leaders to help them consider how CTE should be included in their CBP strategies.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

July 31st, 2015


REPORT OF THE WEEK Unemployment Among Young Adults: Exploring Employer-Led Solutions This new policy paper from the Brookings Institute explores the challenge of youth unemployment and the role employers and credentials can play in supporting this population. The paper offers recommendations, largely focused around the need for better alignment, communications and partnerships between education and employers. Read more.

FACT OF THE WEEK Fifty-one percent of high school students do NOT agree that their school helped them understand the steps they need to take in order to have the career they want. Read more.

NEWS OF THE WEEK Senator Tim Kaine, co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, which would expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term job training programs.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

Inside International CTE: Papua New Guinea and the CTE System

July 2nd, 2015

Heather Singmaster visited Papua New Guinea and discusses the educational system’s challenges and some ways the government is implementing innovative solutions. This is part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on EdWeek.

Traditionally in Papua New Guinea (PNG), there has not been much investment in human resources. Yet, with high population growth expected—approximately seven million today and projected to grow to 11 million by 2050 and then double every 30 years thereafter—the country will have no choice but to face this challenge. Perhaps that is why the PNG government chose last month to host the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Human Resource Development in the capital, Port Moresby, which I had the honor of attending and serving as a guest speaker.

One way the government is attempting to address the human capital challenge is by expanding access to vocational education and training (VET). This is a strategy being pursued by other economies in the Asia-Pacific region, whether they are emerging or not.

In the past, VET in PNG was considered the responsibility of the provinces. According to the UNESCO report Education for All 2000-2015, students could begin attending vocational training centres after successfully completing the basic education programme at the end of grade 8. An option today for students who complete lower secondary education is to attend technical colleges, which offer one-year Pre-employment Technical Training courses (currently being replaced by a two-year Technical Training Certificate programme.) Additionally, the Papua New Guinea Education Institute offers a three-year course for grade 10 graduates leading to the Certificate of Elementary Teaching.

Given these various options, one of the biggest challenges facing VET in PNG right now is the issue of coordination among the three different government bodies reponsible for VET: the Department of Education (TVET Division); the National Training Council and the National Apprenticeship and Trade Testing Board (NATTB) at the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations; and the Office of Higher Education. The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is responsible for setting the national standards and curriculum, and they also administer the nation’s apprenticeship program. This fragmented system contributes to a lack of clarity about different roles, making reform difficult and also leading to budgetary issues as outlined below.

Aligning Practice with Industry Needs
Thumbnail image for FullSizeRender-3.jpgI had the opportunity to visit one of the four main government-run technical colleges, Port Moresby Technical College (called Pom Tech for short). They accept students from across the country and currently enroll 628 students full time. With only approximately 200 boarding spots available, most students have to find their own housing, which is extremely difficult in Port Moresby where housing is limited and expensive. There are only 62 female students, which is primarily because there are only that number of beds available to them at the school and staying outside is not feasible for women.

The school offers programs in 10 different trades with 30 different specialties, and is in the process of adding four more, including automotive electrical and refrigeration, as soon as the standards and curriculum are approved. Women are allowed to take any course they choose, but the majority are in the printing pathway (which includes desktop publishing, graphics, and offset printing). The most popular courses for men are electrical and mechanical.

One additional dorm is reserved for the apprentice program. Students work full-time as apprentices, but come to the school for eight weeks each year to study. During the course of the three-year program they earn Level One through Three certificates.

Pom Tech also serves as the Trade Testing Center. Anyone can come and take tests, beginning with Level One, to be granted certificates and recognition for skills they have—no matter where they learned them.

Striking to me was the fact that in a country where mining and oil production are the biggest industries, there were no courses in these fields offered to full-time students. Apparently this is because the companies doing this work (mainly foreign companies) provide their own training, with some exceptions such as the short courses provided “on demand” to the companies by Pom Tech. For instance, a gold mine may send workers to Pom Tech for a four-week course designed specifically for them. These are only possible when the staff, which appeared to be stretched, has the time.

However, industry involvement in the system is critical to its overall success and providing more than just apprenticeships is important to upgrading it. By keeping training in these key areas as a function of companies, there is no investment into the local workforce, leading to more expenses in terms of either bringing in workers from abroad or having to hold these extensive training courses.

There are many issues plaguing the PNG education system. Yet, there are a few areas where they are making strides:

National Standards and a Qualifications Framework
The VET standards are established through a process led by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations that involves boards of industry-specific experts. The certificates students earn aligned to these standards are recognized nationally based on the National Qualifications Framework. During the APEC meeting there was much discussion of whether APEC should work toward a regional qualifications framework, an idea that PNG endorsed.

Regional Cooperation
This month marks the beginning of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between PNG and the Philippines to provide assistance on building capacity at VET colleges. Such agreements are not unique to PNG; during the APEC discussions, Australia presented on the work it has been doing on building qualification frameworks with other countries in the region. And Singapore is often providing technical assistance to emerging vocational systems.

Creating or expanding access to apprenticeship programs that work well with industry and provide training in a technical college is a goal of many education systems today across the globe—including in economies much more advanced than PNG‘s. The program that Pom Tech has established seems to be popular, well supported, and running smoothly via a partnership created between government and industry.

Papua New Guinea has far to go, they are eager to learn from others and are opening up to the world. Notably, they are focused on not only developing their natural resources but also developing their human resources. To meet this goal, they are beginning to integrate innovative practices—including global competence and expansion of VET—into their education systems, which can provide an inspiring example for others, including more developed countries.

Read part one on how Papua New Guinea prioritizes global competence in education. 

Follow Heather on Twitter. 

Photo courtesy of the author.

CTE Research Review: A Call for Career Pathways

July 2nd, 2015

The Potential of Career Pathways

Two new reports explores the history and potential of career pathways.

First, a new report from the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) examines the evolution of career pathways over the past 30 years as the country has adapted and responded to the need for a skilled workforce. Further, it also offers strategies for state and local stakeholders to consider when developing a comprehensive pathways system that connects and aligns education and workforce development systems.

The paper, published as part of OCTAE’s three-year initiative to advance CTE in state and local career pathways, cited the 2014 passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the Administration’s Ready to Work initiative as “game-changing” actions that will continue to drive cross-systems alignment.

“When looking at what has worked in career-related education and training programs historically, it becomes clear that a comprehensive Career Pathways systems approach holds significant promise for providing Americans with the skills and credentials needed for high-demand jobs and careers,” the report states.

The report was produced by Jobs for the Future, which is contracted by OCTAE to manage the career pathways project.

Meanwhile, from the Brookings Institute, economics expert Harry Holzer calls for expanding high-quality CTE – including career pathways and work-based learning, to help the nation better meet the needs of employers’ skill demands. Specifically, Holzer writes that community colleges and employers need better incentives to invest in middle-skill workers and adapt as the labor market changes. He offers three solutions:

  • Provide more resources to community colleges and smaller four-year institutions while also creating incentives and accountability through performance-based funding;
  • Expand high-quality CTE and work-based learning such as apprenticeships; and
  • Incentivize employers to create more good jobs, as well as other supportive policies including higher minimum wages.

What Happens When Students Transfer

A new study examines what happens when students transfer from and to four-year institutions.

From the Community College Research Center, “What We Know about Transfer,” takes a look at student transfer patterns, outcomes, barriers and the economic benefits of transferring in a new brief, and call transferring a “vital route to a bachelor’s degree for many underserved students.” Yet, the authors caution that policymakers should pay keen attention to the transfer process to protect the credits students have earned in order to create an efficient, seamless process for college attainment.

Data, Data, Data

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a new brief in its “Data Point” series that looks at the Credentials (2)relationship between education and work credentials. Analyzing the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, NCES found that more than one in five adults, nearly a quarter, have a work credential. Of these, 71 percent have a license and 29 percent have a certification. Also, more than half of those holding a work credential have less than a bachelor’s degree.

NCES also released two new data sets of note:

  • An update to its High School Longitudinal Study, which includes a look at CTE coursetaking
  • Trends in high school dropout and completion rates from 1972-2012

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Celebrating CTE at the White House

July 1st, 2015


Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education and  theWhite House hosted “Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education,” honoring CTE students, educators and programs that exemplify everything CTE has to offer, which Kim Green (NASDCTEc Executive Director), Rod Duckworth (Chancellor for Career and Adult Education in Florida and NASDCTEc President) and I had the honor of attending.

One major highlight of the day-long event was a keynote from First Lady Michelle Obama who acknowledged the power of CTE and encouraged the audience to keep pushing themselves and their peers. “I don’t know how many people know about CTE but more people should because in today’s world, a high school diploma isn’t enough…If you want to learn cutting-edge skills, if you want to prepare yourself for college and a good career…it’s important for students to realize that a four-year university is not your only option.” She continued, “For many young people and their families, CTE can be the best option because you can get all the professional skills you need for a good job in a high-demand field and you can do it at a fraction at the time and, more importantly, a fraction of the cost.” To summarize, “Career and tech programs make a whole lot of sense.”

IMG_0349Throughout the day, excellence and innovation were on display, with remarks from Principal Sandra Clement of Foy H. Moody High School (a 2014 Excellence in Action winner) discussing how CTE has propelled all of their students, in a high minority and low-income district, to apply for postsecondary education; high school seniors Anne and Anna Raheem, who championed the development of a STEM course in their school and are on their way to Harvard next year; and Jacob Smith who introduced the First Lady and is starting at Johnson & Wales with a full scholarship in the fall. A number of students and schools also shared projects – on topics including 3D printing, fingerprinting and robotics – during an innovation fair.

IMG_0298The day concluded with the recognition ceremony, where 16 national “student innovators and 10 “educator innovators “(as selected by ACTE and Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), five Excellence in Action award winners, and 16 CTSOs leaders were honored.

Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Associate Executive Director