The Alchemy of CTE: An interview with Jeremy Sheaffer, Teacher at Whitehall High School, Michigan

April 8th, 2021

Submitted by Siemens, Platinum Sponsor of the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting

Career Technical Education (CTE) has helped to positively shape Jeremy Sheaffer’s life for decades, providing rewarding career experiences and fueling a passion for lifelong learning. Today, Sheaffer is a 9th grade teacher at Whitehall High School, Michigan, where he introduces students to Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and the world of engineering. His journey exemplifies the importance of reconnecting and reimagining what is possible.  

Ironically, as a student back in the 90’s, Sheaffer disliked school – a lot!  Fortunately, his mother worked in CTE and she encouraged him to consider CTE pathways so he could obtain the skills needed to get a high-wage, in-demand career.  Sheaffer followed her advice.  He graduated and landed his first job in industry working for a die cast tooling manufacturer, where he made a decent wage.  “At that time, it was all about just wanting to earn a good salary.”  Sheaffer commented.

Sheaffer worked hard, he continued to learn on the job and he always looked for ways to optimize his performance; a trait that did not go unnoticed by his employer and he was frequently promoted. Sheaffer’s CTE experiences and early career successes have motivated him to reimagine his future more than once. While working in manufacturing he returned to school and earned a Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Engineering.  A few years following that he completed his teaching certification.

Students tour Muskegon Community College Technology center

Currently, working in his dream job, Sheaffer is excited about sharing his industry knowledge with his students. He’s elected to implement a project-based learning method, stating “he believes project-based learning (centered on problem-solving) equates to life, because life is all about solving problems.” 

Sheaffer attended Siemens training course and selected Siemens Engineering Design problem-based curriculum for his class. “It [the curriculum] provides excellent examples and the scaffolding necessary for teaching students real-world knowledge and skills,” he commented.  “The week-long training program was outstanding; it opened my eyes to the abundant possibilities the curriculum offers, and it helped me to gain a better understanding of what can be done remotely.”

For more information on Siemens Engineering Design curriculum or Solid Edge Resources for Educators please visit

Visit Siemens’ virtual booth at the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting! More information and the interactive agenda can be found here.

Research-based Strategies to Address Teacher Recruitment and Retention

April 6th, 2021

Submitted by SREB, Platinum Sponsor for the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting

The nation’s Career Technical Education (CTE) teacher pipeline is broken, and many states and districts lack access to trusted resources for repairing and expanding it. Last spring, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) held a convening to address the CTE teacher shortage. While conducting career pathway reviews for districts working on their Comprehensive Local Needs Assessments (CLNA), we’ve found that many districts urgently need help with teacher recruitment and retention. 

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) is proud to share a research-based, classroom-tested resource for addressing the teacher workforce challenge: Teaching to Lead (T2L), our fast-track alternative certification program for new and early-career CTE teachers who enter the profession after successful careers in business and industry. 

Initially developed by SREB in partnership with the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, this research-based effort continues to grow and positively impact the preparation and success of CTE teachers nationwide. Now hosted on Google Suite, T2L receives rave reviews from state, district and school leaders:

  • State CTE leaders in Alabama report that “SREB’s T2L curriculum meets the needs of our new teachers. They worked with us to tailor the delivery of professional development and coaching specifically for the needs of our state.”
  • Principals in Rutherford County, Tennessee, report an amazing difference in the instructional quality of teachers who participate in T2L. “We need all of our CTE teachers to go through Teaching to Lead,” said one principal. 
  • Jodi Adams, Director of the CTE New Teacher Institute at the University of Louisville, reports that Kentucky’s adoption of T2L, “helped us increase our retention of new teachers by almost 30 percent, moving the state from a 64 percent retention rate to over 90 percent. The intensive professional development, coupled with significant coaching support, allows our teachers to smoothly transition into the classroom and quickly thrive.”
  • Syracuse City School District in the state of New York has seen CTE teacher retention improve from 50 percent beyond the first year of teaching to over 88 percent. 

Professional Learning, Coaching and Collaboration

T2L’s professional learning weaves content from four modules — classroom culture, instructional planning, engagement strategies and assessment and feedback — together in face-to-face, virtual or blended settings. Ongoing just-in-time coaching and collaboration with other new teachers helps all participating teachers experience greater success. 

SREB works with state departments of education, postsecondary partners and districts to tailor  plans of support to address their unique contexts and ensure that alternatively certified teachers gain classroom confidence, experience greater job satisfaction and remain in the profession.  

SREB also strives to build local capacity to own and support T2L by including local trainers from the state, district or postsecondary institution in initial professional learning sessions led by SREB. The second round of training has SREB collaborates with and gradually prepares these local trainers to take the lead. This process not only helps develop the CTE teacher pipeline but also empowers local agencies to keep that pipeline open. The result is better prepared teacher-leaders who know how to use quality instructional practices to impact student success.

To learn more about Teaching to Lead or SREB’s similarly designed alternative certification program for math and science teachers, contact Debbie Anderson at or Scott Warren at

Written by Debbie Anderson, Gaye Martin and Scott Warren

Visit SREB’s virtual booth at the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting! More information and the interactive agenda can be found here.

Revising WBL to accommodate COVID? Do this first…

April 5th, 2021

Submitted by NC3T, Platinum Sponsor of the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting

As the lead developer of Seamless WBL, I talk with people all over the country about work-based learning. Over the past year, most of those conversations have centered around COVID-19 (coronavirus), which has turned the world of work-based learning absolutely upside-down.

Work-based learning (WBL) relies almost entirely on people-to-people contact, with students talking with and visiting employers and working at companies throughout a school’s community. It’s face-to-face; it’s shoulder-to-shoulder. And, introducing a virus that requires social distancing and self-isolation completely up-ends that model.

Most of the conversations I’ve had have focused on coming up with new strategies to do work-based learning, and many of those have been addressed with either virtual solutions (virtual guest speakers, virtual site visits) or simulations (launching student-based enterprises rather than conducting an internship at an employer site).

How vs. What

But a lot of people have jumped directly to the “how” without realizing that the “what” has changed.

The hallmark of Career Technical Education (CTE) is relevance: We’re working to prepare students for the kinds of professional opportunities they’ll pursue after graduation. And, it’s very easy to get too focused-in on fixing the mechanics of WBL without taking a step back to make sure that the occupations we’ve been preparing students for haven’t changed as a result of the pandemic as well.

Think about hospitality as an example of an industry that’s been hit hard by the pandemic. If you’re trying to get your students the same kinds of WBL opportunities as before (even if they are virtual) you’re probably missing some pretty big changes to the field: culinary, hospitality, travel, and events have all taken a huge hit, and it’s going to be a long time before they’re back to where they were a year ago.

Questions We Need Answers To!

While culinary is an obvious example, think about the countless desk-based occupations out there. How many are being done remotely? How does that change what students need to experience as they prepare for one of those occupations? What kind of new safety training and workflows are people in various high-skill trades dealing with? And, for those culinary students – if restaurants are hurting, who’s still doing well and require the same or similar skill sets?

So, before you go forward to tackle the urgent challenge of securing WBL slots, take a step. Talk with your employers, both on and outside your advisory board about the current state of things. Look at labor market data and talk with others in the field. You’ll feel better knowing the current landscape, and in a stronger position to find not just opportunities, but the right opportunities.

Brett Pawlowski is Executive Vice President of the National Center for College and Career (NC3T) ( NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance, and tools. These strategies help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.

Visit Nc3T’s virtual booth at the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting! More information and the interactive agenda can be found here.

CTE Pathways: Avenues to Support Student Success

April 1st, 2021

Submitted by Oracle, Gold Sponsor of the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting

One of the many advantages of being the Oracle Academy Regional Director for North America is the opportunity to talk with educational leaders from all over the nation. I spend time learning, sharing ideas, celebrating successes, and understanding challenges that these leaders face each day. One of my fundamental beliefs, which has been confirmed by many of these conversations, is that the Career Technical Education (CTE) Career Clusters provide the opportunity for students to travel an industry-relevant pathway that is representative of the U.S. economy. These pathways provide the opportunity for students to gain industry-relevant skills, to apply those skills to solve complex problems, and then leverage those skills to become leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs of the future.  

As Oracle’s philanthropic education program, Oracle Academy is dedicated to providing innovative technology and industry-related teaching resources to educators dedicated to student success as they travel through these pathways. These resources include curriculum, educator professional development, cloud technologies and professional certification information designed to help educators provide an authentic CTE learning experience.

One of the key ways to continue to support student success, perhaps now more than ever, is to ensure our educators have the opportunity for the best professional development with virtual learning options available. To support educators in meeting this need, Oracle Academy offers free, proven expert computing education curriculum. These curriculum resources focus on database, Java, Oracle cloud access, computing teaching and learning, software and more—all free and available using only a browser. 

Our Summer/Fall virtual training classes for educators include the following: 

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Start Date: May 3, 2021  

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Start Date: May 5, 2021 

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Start Date: August 9, 2021 

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Start Date: August 10, 2021 

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Start Date: August 11, 2021 

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Start Date: August 12, 2021 

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Start Date: August 16,2021 

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Start Date: August 18, 2021 

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Start Date: August 17, 2021 

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Start Date: August 19, 2021 

To educators taking part in professional development, we thank you for investing in your professional learning to support CTE student success—and we are with you!  

Please note, educators must have an Oracle Academy Institutional Membership to access virtual professional education training.  

Not a member of Oracle Academy? Join today! (It’s FREE.) If you have any questions please contact us, and we can help. 

As Oracle’s global, philanthropic educational program, Oracle Academy advances computing education around the world to increase knowledge, innovation, skills development, and diversity in technology fields. We engage with thousands of educational institutions and educators in more than 120 countries, helping millions of students become college and career ready.

Visit Oracle’s virtual booth at the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting! Registration is open. More information and the interactive agenda can be found here

Industry Certifications: Joining Industry and Education Together

March 31st, 2021

Submitted by Lincoln Electric, Diamond Sponsor of the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting 

There is a welding skills gap, and that could actually mean a couple different things: It could mean there simply are not enough skilled welders to fill the welding careers available, or it could mean there is a disconnect between the skills employers are looking for and the skills applicants actually have. Either way, this gap existing is a real problem in the welding industry today—for both employers and job-seeking welders. 

If the problem is that trained welders do not have the specific skills employers are looking for, then the solution is to examine welding education and find a way to bridge the gap. Educational institutions communicate with the welding industry to understand which skills their students actually need for today’s jobs. Because the industry is constantly changing, the needed skills are constantly changing—which means that this communication between education and industry must be ongoing.

Because Lincoln Electric is heavily involved in both industry and welding education, communication is constantly maintained between the two to improve curriculum and training as the industry evolves. From this, the Lincoln Electric Education Partner Schools (LEEPS) welding program was created.

The LEEPS welding certification program is a partnership with the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), which provides curriculum and learning management resources for students and welders to earn standards-based certifications. These certifications are portable and stackable, which means welders can build their own skill base for specific job requirements by combining the skills and certifications they need for immediate employability.

The LEEPS program creates standardization with the train-the-trainer program. All instructors who teach and certify welding students through a partner school have been through the same training, taken the same tests, and used the same curriculum materials. That means employers can see these certifications and know anyone who earned them was taught the same content in the same way and has passed the same weld tests with the same grading rubric. This kind of consistency helps welders to have documented, proven competencies to show employers; and employers know they can expect this consistency from an institution with a standardized process.

Because this program offers a way to integrate certifications into an existing educational institution, it doesn’t limit students or employers to one area. With a traditional welding school, students all train at a single location and are likely to seek jobs in the same general area. With a program like LEEPS, the same quality welding education is available all over the country, so it’s more accessible to students and employers alike. This means employers can find job applicants in their area with the same qualifications as the job seekers in many states across the U.S. Employers can even set up their own internal training with LEEPS to put their welders on the fast track to certification in the specific areas that are needed in their workplace.

There’s a skills gap in the welding industry, but we can set up our welding education programs to help fix it. With standardized, configurable training, today’s welders can complete valuable certifications in a way that’s both convenient and relevant to the available jobs. By joining industry and education in communication, curriculum can be tailored to meet the needs of both welders and employers in today’s job market.

Visit Lincoln Electric’s virtual booth at the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting! Registration is open. More information and the interactive agenda can be found here

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation: CTE Need-based Scholarships

March 29th, 2021

Submitted by the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, Platinum Sponsor of the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting

Our Mission

Every dream has a journey. Every career has a path. At the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, we’re committed to supporting Marine children in pursuit of their educational goals, including those enrolled in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. 

Our CTE scholarship application is available year-round for students attending certificate training or other programs of less than 12 months, and 100 percent of eligible applicants receive aid. Unique in the scholarship provider industry, our need-based scholarship program is intentionally structured to reach students who have the most need, not access to the most opportunity. We require just three eligibility criteria.

Applicants must:

  • Be the child of a Marine, Navy Corpsmen, or Religious Program Specialist, who served with Marines; 
  • Have a GPA of 2.0 or higher; and 
  • Demonstrate financial need. 

Our Scholars

Marine Scholars in 41 states are pursuing CTE education; with the highest representation in North Carolina, California and Texas – states with large populations of Marine Corps families. The quality of the students we invest in, children raised by honorable Marine parents, is highlighted in their academic accomplishments. With a graduation rate of 91 percent (compared to 56 percent nationally) and 50 percent of our recipients reporting little to no debt at graduation (compared to 30 percent nationally), we are confident that our scholarship support makes a significant impact in their lives after graduation.

Reimagining Careers through CTE

Our CTE scholarship often offers students the opportunity to reimagine their career paths. Jennifer, the daughter of veteran Corporal Neil Cleveland USMC, worked in the utility field for over twenty years and wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to give back to her community. Due to family circumstances, she had only completed her education up to 7th grade before returning to community college in her thirties. Now with a family of her own, Jennifer wanted to reset her career and reimage her family’s future. 

Jennifer chose to pursue education through the Metropolitan State University of Denver, studying Fire and Emergency Response Administration. She told the Scholarship Foundation that her program had “enhanced her own character building” by surrounding her with other students who are also serving their communities as Fire Captains, Fire Marshalls and Police Cadets. Her CTE experience, which also included internships and hands-on training, will be instrumental in allowing her to succeed on her new career path. 

Receiving her scholarship allowed Jennifer to participate in her program fully without worrying about the cost. She will graduate in May with a perfect GPA. Jennifer hopes to go on to get a master’s degree in Global Energy Management, one day working with new clean energy technology. 

Jennifer’s drive to give back to her community is a common thread amongst Marine Scholars. Another student using his CTE experience to give back is Danny, the son of Sergeant Danny Novoa Sr USMC (Ret.). Danny was inspired to learn the trade of fabrication through volunteering with his father at Warfighter Made, a non-profit that creates custom vehicles and experiences for wounded veterans. 

The Fabrication School has a unique program that teaches Danny the specialized skills he needs to become a professional fabricator, such as welding and shaping steel. The school also offers a specialization in off-road and automotive building, the area Danny wishes to pursue. After he completes his certification, Danny intends to work as a professional fabricator and continue his volunteer work with Warfighter Made. Through CTE, Danny can turn his passion into a career.  

CTE programs often give non-traditional students like Jennifer a chance to reconnect with their educational journey and reset their career goals. Students like Danny can turn a passion into a career, reimagining what is possible for their futures. The Scholarship Foundation can step in and help children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen achieve these goals through need-based scholarships. These students enter the workforce ready for immediate employment in today’s most hands-on careers. 

If a student has a Marine Parent, no matter when they served, no matter what career path they’re on, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation can help them pay for training. You can learn more about the CTE scholarship and apply at

Visit Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation’s virtual booth at the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting! Registration is open. More information and the interactive agenda can be found here

The Case for Certifications: The Role of Industry Certifications in Rebuilding the Workforce

March 25th, 2021

Submitted by iCEV, Diamond Sponsor of the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting

This is an excerpt from a white paper published by the iCEV Certification Testing Platform. Read the full article here

As the neon lights of “OPEN” signs dimmed across the nation in the spring of 2020, the promise of sustained job growth for the U.S. economy slipped away. Before March 2020, the U.S. had experienced the most prolonged era of job growth in modern history with nearly 10 years of sporadic but sustained increases, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Yet, the sudden onset of COVID-19 and the associated business closures dramatically shifted the nation’s economic outlook. The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy reported the U.S. lost 20.6 million jobs between March and May 2020. According to the Pew Research Center, the unemployment rate jumped from 3.8 percent in February 2020 to 14.4 percent in April 2020. 

While it is easy to observe the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, it is impossible to accurately predict the long-term effects, not only on the U.S economy but also on the next generation of workers. The decrease of employment opportunities, combined with a dramatic shift in instruction delivery, will undoubtedly impact how today’s young adults function in a postsecondary environment and the workforce. To compensate for the loss of educational experiences and employment prospects, young adults will need to be skilled in their fields and pursue career development opportunities. 

Even before the coronavirus, the U.S. workforce was facing a lack of skilled workers. The National Skills Coalition reported 52 percent of jobs require skills training beyond a high school diploma; however, only 43 percent of workers meet the necessary skill training level. Additionally, a multi-generational focus on college readiness rather than career readiness led to a lack of emphasis on skill development in secondary and post-secondary settings. These factors have culminated in a lack of skilled workers prepared to meet workforce demands.

To increase their marketability in a post-pandemic environment, students and working professionals can earn an industry certification in their field of choice. Industry certifications are tangible evidence of knowledge and skills in a specific area or field. Despite a rapidly evolving education system and labor force, industry certifications allow students and workers to align their knowledge and skill base to current employer needs, thereby shrinking the skills gap. 

Due to their specialized skill set, certification earners are more qualified to enter the workforce and stand out from other applicants during the hiring process. Industry certifications act as a signal to employers, letting them know the applicant has extensive training in the field and has actively sought and achieved career development opportunities. The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) discovered individuals who have earned industry certifications are more likely to be employed one year after earning an industry certification than workers without a certification. Business Wire reported certification earners are twice as likely to receive a raise or promotion within six months of earning a certification compared to their non-certified coworkers. Workers who receive a raise due to earning an industry certification reported pay increases between 20 and 40 percent. According to a study conducted by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, 47 percent of millennials report earning an industry certification helped them in their career journey. 

To recoup from the economic fallout the coronavirus caused, the U.S. will need to develop a pipeline of skilled workers. Industry certification earners are more qualified and prepared to enter or transition within the workforce due to their extensive background knowledge and proven skillsets. In a struggling economy, employers need to easily identify experienced applicants, and industry certifications function as a hiring signal. 

While some fluorescent “OPEN” signs have once again begun to light doors and windows of businesses across the nation, the U.S. workforce’s trajectory has been irrecoverably shifted. As the country works toward economic recovery, it is imperative young adults take advantage of career development opportunities, such as earning an industry certification. Young workers will be the key to rebuilding the American economy, and it is essential they have the training and experience required to meet employer and industry demands. By earning an industry certification, young workers can upskill or reskill as needed, therefore strengthening their resume and increasing their employability. An investment in skills training for current students and young adults through industry certifications will bolster the workforce, shrink the skills gap and propel the U.S. toward economic recovery.  

Visit the iCEV website to learn more about the industry certifications hosted on the iCEV Certification Testing Platform and the role they can play in training the workforce and rebuilding the economy.

Visit iCEV’s virtual booth at the Advance CTE 2021 Spring Meeting! Registration is open. More information and the interactive agenda can be found here

Improving CTE Data Quality: Data Systems, Policies and Practices are Fully Aligned Across Agencies and Learner Levels

March 24th, 2021

In an effective career readiness data ecosystem, silos between and within state-level agencies are broken down to allow for data alignment across agencies and learner levels. This is critical to understanding a learner’s experience along the K-12, postsecondary and workforce continuum.

In 2012, New Jersey was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS) that would create a unified data warehouse between the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (NJOSHE), and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJLWD). This new SLDS would make it easier for the aforementioned agencies to share data amongst each other; link data at the individual learner level; and improve governance, policymaking, and the performance of education and workforce initiatives.

New Jersey used its grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop the New Jersey Education to Earnings Data System (NJEEDS), a SLDS aimed at helping educators, workforce program operators and other stakeholders make data-informed decisions to improve student learning and labor market outcomes. NJEEDS is designed to be a centralized data hub where state secondary, postsecondary and workforce data are securely stored and made available to the associated agencies. NJEEDS is under a multi-state agency governance structure with two governing bodies: 1) the Executive Leadership Council comprised of designees from NJOSHE, NJLWD, NJDOE, and the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority; and 2) the Data Stewards Work Group that is co-chaired by executive level representatives from the three state agencies.

NJEEDS pulls data from various sources including the New Jersey Standards Measurement and Resource Training Data System (NJ SMART), the state’s K-12 data warehouse; Student Unit Record (SURE), the state’s higher education data warehouse; and the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) wage record system. However, New Jersey faced a common challenge for state data systems — linking learner-level data once learners exit the K-12 system. New Jersey found a creative strategy to fill in the gaps and reliably link learner-level data across education levels by using data from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission when a common identifier is not available. NJEEDS uses a complex matching and validation process to ensure that learner records are as complete and accurate as possible. This process has resulted in an 82% match rate.

NJEEDS illustrates what states can do when silos are broken and agencies work together, share data, and find creative solutions to link learner-level records across education and workforce agencies. 

Read the Advance CTE Case Study New Jersey: Education to Earnings Data System to learn more about how New Jersey developed its SLDS to align data across agencies and learner levels. For additional resources on improving the quality and use of career readiness data, check out the Career Readiness Data Quality microsite.  

This is the third edition in a series of Advance CTE data quality blogs to accompany Advance CTE’s latest releases, Career Readiness Data Quality and Use Policy Benchmark Tool and Data Quality Case Studies. For more resources on data and accountability in CTE, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brian Robinson

Policy Associate

New Resource Strives to Connect Every Learner to Work-Based Learning 

March 23rd, 2021

Work-based learning provides learners an opportunity to reinforce and deepen classroom learning, explore future career fields, and demonstrate their skills in an authentic, real-world setting. Through experiences such as internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing and student-led enterprises, work-based learning connects learners’ classroom experiences to their future careers. Given its vital role in a learner’s career development, leaders in education, workforce and public policy must ensure work-based learning opportunities are equitable. This means that every learner regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, ability or geography can access high-quality work-based learning opportunities and are provided the necessary supports to be successful. 

Work-based learning is a critical strategy to level the playing field for historically marginalized learners who tend to lack social capital, or a network of relationships that can be mobilized to improve an individual’s power, status and authority.  Advance CTE’s latest publication, Connecting Every Learner: A Framework for States to Increase Access to and Success in Work-Based Learning, suggests five strategies states can take to build, implement and scale high-quality work-based learning experiences — with a specific focus on expanding equitable access and supporting success for historically marginalized learners such as learners with disabilities, economically disadvantaged learners, Black, Latinx, Native American and rural learners, and learners pursuing nontraditional career paths. Each section of the report describes what the strategy looks like in practice, offers a rationale for each strategy, and provides state and local examples of best practices across the country. Those strategies include:

Establish a statewide vision for equity in work-based learning by establishing a policy environment that incentivizes high-quality work-based learning experiences, build the infrastructure for stakeholders to realize the vision and set intentional goals. For example, Tennessee has set a goal to double the number of learners participating in work-based learning experiences by 2025, with an emphasis on economically disadvantaged learners. Tennessee is leveraging youth apprenticeships, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding, and targeted wraparound supports to realize this goal.

Enable intermediary organizations to equitably expand work-based learning through funding, building formal partnerships or even tasking state-level organizations to serve as intermediaries. For example, the Connecting Activities network in Massachusetts is made up of state workforce boards that connect employers and schools to support work-based learning and career development education opportunities for learners. 

Use data to advance equity and program quality by developing data systems that allow for reliable, valid and complete collection of work-based learning data; require work-based learning providers to collect demographic data on learners and leverage data to track learner participation and success in high-quality work-based learning opportunities; and ensure data is actionable. For example, Washington State requires Registered Apprenticeship sponsors to collect demographic data on apprentices as part of their “equal employment opportunity plan.” 

Engage and support employers to offer high-quality and inclusive work-based learning experiences by supporting and incentivizing employers to provide equitable and inclusive work-based learning opportunities; building the infrastructure for engaging employers at scale and making the case for them to participate in work-based learning; and supporting employers and the education sector in understanding legal liability associated with youth work-based learning experiences. For example, the Denver Public Schools’ Career and College Success – Career Development Programs partner with the business community to provide high school learners with expanded access to relevant learning opportunities in the classroom and in workplace settings. 

Scale successful programs using an equity lens by braiding funding from multiple federal and state sources; enacting policies to create an incentive structure that supports high-quality work-based learning; meaningfully engaging stakeholders across systems and sectors; and building processes for monitoring progress and making changes as needed. For example, West Virginia’s Simulated Workplace program transforms learners’ classrooms and programs into business to create an authentic environment where they can develop and practice both technical and employability skills. 

Work-based learning is an essential component of any high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program. As state leaders begin implementing their Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) plans, they have a responsibility to ensure any work-based learning policies and practices are rooted in equity. Specifically, the policies and practices must be rooted in identifying and dismantling barriers to work-based learning  participation by and outcomes of historically marginalized groups. This report, and the strategies included, is one tool designed to support state leaders in this endeavor. 

Visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for more resources on work-based learning and access and equity to CTE. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

Welcome Scott Stump to Advance CTE

March 16th, 2021

It is my honor to join the talented and passionate team at Advance CTE in the role of Senior Advisor. As a former State Director of Career Technical Education (CTE), I am excited to lead and contribute to major initiatives and projects including Advance CTE’s Postsecondary CTE Leaders Fellowship Program and Advancing the Framework, a multi-year project to revise the National Career Clusters® Framework. I will also support Advance CTE’s federal advocacy, state policy and technical assistance efforts.

My journey to Advance CTE started as a CTE student and teacher in northeastern Indiana where I witnessed firsthand the difference we as a CTE community make in the lives of learners of all ages and backgrounds. My early CTE experience led service to the National FFA Organization, the state of Colorado and the Colorado Community College System, Vivayic (a learning solutions provider devoted to helping individuals, organizations and corporations do good in the world) and the United States Department of Education as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). As the assistant secretary for OCTAE, I served as the principal adviser to the Secretary of Education on all matters concerning high school, career, technical and adult education as well as community colleges, the workforce and economic development.

Without question, collaborating with state and national leaders and organizations on the implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) was the most meaningful work to me over the past two years. Early in the process we asked states to “Rethink CTE” by questioning everything to ensure that nothing limits a student’s ability to be ready for what’s next in their life and career.

Wherever opportunities and travels have taken our family over the past few years, home is a small ranch in Stoneham, Colorado.  As a parent, I am proud that all of my children are products of CTE.

Scott Stump, Senior Advisor