Getting To Know Advance CTE’s Work to Advance Employer Engagement

October 22nd, 2020

The “Getting to Know” blog series will feature the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each one of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Meghan Wills! Meghan is Director of Strategic Initiatives at Advance CTE; she’s been with the organization since August 2019. Meghan leads Advance CTE’s state policy and technical assistance work, including supporting the expansion of high-quality career pathways, providing technical assistance to states as they implement their Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans, and modernizing The National Career ClustersⓇ Framework. 

Q: Through your work at Advance CTE, how have you seen employer engagement prioritized in high-quality CTE programs?

A: As a result of Perkins V, employers have more opportunities than ever before to become active participants in developing high-quality CTE programs. Through the comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA), employers can identify local workforce needs and high-skill, high-wage, in-demand occupations in their community and ensure that CTE programs and programs of study are aligned to those needs and opportunities. Work-based learning is a critical component of high-quality CTE programs, and the strongest work-based learning experiences are co-developed by employers and the education system to meet both learners’ and employers’ needs. Finally, employers and industry experts are serving as classroom instructors and industry mentors, which provide learners with invaluable opportunities to directly learn from experts in the field.

Q: What are the common barriers to effective employer engagement?

A: One of the biggest challenges employers face when trying to become more engaged in CTE programs is that the education system and employers speak very different languages. Employers are focused on skills their employees will need in the workplace, but they often feel that those skills are not sufficiently emphasized in the education system. Another challenge is that employers often don’t know where to start to become more engaged in CTE programs; while there are a number of opportunities for them to do so, which I described earlier, employers often don’t know about those opportunities or don’t know who they should contact to become more involved.  

Q: What future opportunities do you anticipate for the intersect between CTE and employers?

A: As the country looks ahead to the recovery from COVID-19 (coronavirus), CTE programs can play a strong role in helping prepare learners for jobs of the future, as described in our recent fact sheet CTE Prepares Learners for the Future of Work. The coronavirus accelerated the pace of technological change, and workers in the near future will require a different set of skills to be successful in the workplace. CTE programs, with their strong emphasis on hands-on learning and real-world skills, help learners develop foundational skills that can easily be transferred across rapidly shifting sectors and work activities. As employers remain actively engaged in CTE programs, they can continue to ensure that CTE learners are well prepared with future-oriented foundational skills.

Employers eager to get involved with CTE in their state or local communities can leverage: 

Announcing the New Skills ready network

October 20th, 2020

Today, JPMorgan Chase announced the full cohort of U.S. based sites receiving career readiness investments as part of the company’s $75 million New Skills at Work initiative. This effort is designed to better prepare young people, and particular Black and Latinx learners, for the future of work and lifelong success.

The U.S. sites – which comprise the New Skills ready network – are Boston|Massachusetts, Columbus|Ohio, Dallas|Texas, Denver|Colorado, Indianapolis|Indiana and Nashville|Tennessee. They will be joined by four international sites that will be announced in the coming months that will round out the global investment.

What makes these five-year, $7 million investments so unique is that each site has brought together a cross-sector partnership of local K-12 school systems, two- and four-year institutions of higher education, employers, and state agencies to develop and scale equitable, high-quality career pathways. Advance CTE is excited to be working with these state and local leaders over the next five years, in partnership with Education Strategy Group, to help them strengthen their systems, policies and practices to provide greater opportunities for each and every learner.

The six sites will have regular and ongoing opportunities to learn from each other, build shared solutions to common challenges, and provide lessons learned that can benefit pathways and learners in communities across the country. Work has been underway over the past six months, and all sites stand ready to begin implementing their year one action plans to attend to equity gaps, improve data capacity and sharing, strengthen public-private partnerships and build key supports for learners, among other foundational priorities.

“Advance CTE is honored and excited to continue our relationship with JPMorgan Chase & Co. as a co-lead of the New Skills ready network. Career Technical Education is more important than ever in today’s economy, striving to provide each learner with equitable access to the knowledge and real-world skills that prepare them for careers in essential industries. I am confident that this important work, across the six states and sites, will create transformative career pathways and inspire innovative policy that will ensure more learners can use their passion and talents throughout their education, resulting in a lifetime of career success. We look forward to continuing this work in partnership with Education Strategy Group and JPMorgan Chase & Co.” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director, Advance CTE.

Read JPMorgan Chase’s full press release and Education Strategy Group’s blog to learn more about the initiative and progress to date.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

This Week in CTE

May 22nd, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

States are increasingly innovative in their use of technology during the pandemic to deliver CTE to learners across the country. Here are two great stories of how CTE continues despite social distancing and stay-at-home orders. 

VIRTUAL FACILITIES TOUR OF THE WEEK

In North Carolina, the cosmetology program at Union County Public Schools created a virtual tour of their facilities for prospective students and their families. 

VIRTUAL CAREER EXPLORATION TOUR OF THE WEEK

Career counselors in Ohio have switched gears from in-person business tours for CTE concentrators to a virtual week-long career exploration tour with local businesses. Students were able to tour the facilities and speak with a professional in the industry where they were provided the opportunity to ask questions about education, skills and on-the-job activities. Read more in the article from The Business Journal of Youngstown, Ohio.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

One factor contributing to the alignment of CTE programs to the workforce is the equipment made available to students. In California, new robotics equipment has arrived! The robotics program is open to students across the Shasta Union School District, making this new equipment accessible to all program concentrators. Learn more in this article by KRCR News.

PODCAST OF THE WEEK

CTE is going to be essential to the economic recovery of our nation. One school district in the state of Virginia is already getting a head start on framing the conversation of what high-quality CTE looks like and sharing its robust programs to students, families and the community. Listen to episode four of their podcast, HENRICO CTE NOW, as they discuss the energy career cluster. 

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

This study from the Online Learning Consortium examines six institutions in the United States that are experimenting with alternative credentialing strategies to provide flexible learning opportunities, including digital distance learning and prior learning assessments. View more resources such as this in our Learning that Works Resource Center

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

We encourage you to let your representative know that you support including CTE funding and flexibilities in the next stimulus bill by following the quick prompt here

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

Welcoming Henry Mack as Florida’s Chancellor for Career, Technical and Adult Education

March 12th, 2020

Henry Mack started as the Chancellor for Career, Technical and Adult Education in Florida in November 2019 and is approaching his new role with great thought and enthusiasm. Previously, Henry served as Vice President for Workforce Education and Innovation at Broward College in southeast Florida, ensuring alignment between the college’s academic programs and local market demands. Henry also taught undergraduate philosophy and religion at the University of Miami and at Florida International University, having studied philosophy and theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

The Florida Department of Education’s Division of Career and Adult Education is taking on a necessary but difficult task to ensure that learners, businesses, and the economy are benefiting from a robust Career Technical Education (CTE) system. They are in the midst of conducting an audit of its 1,200+ CTE programs to ensure they are aligned with high-growth, in-demand and high-wage employment opportunities. Using his background in liberal arts, however, Henry is looking forward to considering ways to better connect CTE with the traditional aims of a liberal arts education, such as education for democratic citizenship, cultural competence, critical thinking and mental agility. He is also looking forward to leveraging CTE as a means to address issues of access and economic and social inequities.

Looking ahead, Henry has big ideas for CTE in Florida. He’s excited to explore structural innovations in education, for example, considering different ways to integrate technical colleges into an education system, leverage technology to assist parents and learners in navigating potential career pathways, and promote practical and successful entrepreneurship across the state. Advance CTE is thrilled to support Henry in these endeavors! 

When he’s not on the job, Henry spends his time with his four-year-old daughter, two-year-old son and wife.

Clay Long, Achieving His Dream Job

January 28th, 2020

Clay Long is about to hit his two-month mark on the job as the State CTE Director in Idaho but he is no newbie to Career Technical Education (CTE). Serving in this role has been Clay’s dream job for 15 years, since he first held an internship in the state CTE office while he was an undergraduate.

Most recently, Clay served as the chief of staff for the mayor of the City of Nampa, ID, and as a CTE administrator in the Nampa school district, the third-largest school district in the state. As a CTE administrator, Clay pursued answers to the questions, “What does CTE provide as a unique competitive advantage?” and “How can we best connect industry to learners?” Clay focused on CTE branding, marketing and outreach to industry, parents and students. This area of communications is of continued interest to Clay as he settles into the State Director role.

Clay has held a variety of leadership roles, from serving on CTSO boards (Idaho Business Professionals of America (BPA), SkillsUSA Idaho and National BPA), and was the president of Career & Technical Educators of Idaho. Notably, Clay’s passion for CTE is long held, as he taught firefighting at Idaho’s first high school firefighting program, stepping up to lead the program after a struggling first-year.

Looking ahead, Clay is interested in exploring models of virtual education that provides increased access to rural and remote learners – a challenge for Idaho – and collaborating with staff and stakeholders to inform an upcoming five-year strategic plan focusing on the ability to meet the demands and needs of industry. He is excited that CTE is top of mind and frequently mentioned by legislators in his state, and was even mentioned in the Governor’s State of the State address, demonstrating the importance of CTE in Idaho.

Fun Facts about Clay:

Favorite weekend activities: traveling and spending time with family and friends

If he could only eat one type of food for the rest of his life: Italian food

 

Mississippi Welcomes Dr. Aimee Brown to Lead State CTE System

December 9th, 2019

Dr. Aimee Brown was appointed Mississippi’s Director of Career and Technical Education in June 2019, following nearly three decades in the CTE field.

Before Aimee joined the Mississippi State Department of Education, she served 12 years as the CTE Director for the Madison County School District — one of Mississippi’s largest school districts. There, she led the expansion of the district’s CTE programs, resulting in two of her district’s five career academies being nationally recognized as model academies. Before then, Aimee was the CTE director in a smaller rural district, where she worked to improve equity and access to CTE for her students. Prior to becoming an administrator, Aimee received her doctorate and taught business and technology at both the high school and community college levels.

Aimee’s experience at the local level will be a key asset as Mississippi transitions to Perkins V and further expands CTE across the state. When asked why she transitioned to a role at the state level, Aimee explained that it was her “inner desire to take what she learned and help other districts.” 

“That’s what I have enjoyed so much about the job, I get to interact with CTE directors in the state and help them develop their own programs and initiatives.”

Looking ahead, Aimee and her team plans to leverage career academies and other promising CTE strategies to further support learners in Mississippi. While at Madison County, she saw that “these initiatives helped many of the students perform better in their subject areas,” as well as improved their discipline and attendance. 

Aimee’s team is also considering strategies to support a variety of learners, including underperforming students and students “in the middle” — those who are neither high-achieving nor at-risk. One potential lever is the new option for high school students in the class of 2022 to earn a CTE endorsement on their graduation diploma. This endorsement would be available to students who complete a CTE program; earn Silver Level on WorkKeys; and, either receive dual credits, participate in a work-based learning experience, or earn an industry-recognized credential. 

Over the next year, the team will also work to support the Mississippi Board of Education in developing a state strategic plan that aligns with Perkins and the specific industry needs of the state. For Aimee, a key component of this work will be ensuring equity and access to high-quality CTE across rural and urban populations.

Roger Barnes, An Example of Missouri’s Remarkable History of Developing CTE Champions

November 22nd, 2019

Roger Barnes retired in June 2019 after over three decades of working to support students across Missouri. A week later, he took over as Missouri’s new State CTE Coordinator. When asked why he decided to transition to the new role, Roger explained that he knew he “wasn’t ready to stop serving students.” 

Roger’s journey to his current position began similar to that of other CTE champions: as a CTE student. In high school, he was enrolled in his district’s local agricultural education program. After graduating, he went on to earn a four-year degree in agricultural mechanics but then decided to return home to work alongside his father on the family’s farm. During this time, Roger also began serving as a substitute teacher in the same agricultural program that had earlier supported his educational journey. Motivated to continue empowering more CTE students, Roger sought his teaching certification and worked his way up to becoming a high school principal. Later, he served as director of a local area career center and ultimately superintendent of a school district.

This experience at the district level allowed Roger to develop a deep insight into the effects of statewide systems and policies on students and teachers in the classroom. As a superintendent, he was invited to join Missouri’s CTE Advisory Council and collaborate with business leaders, policymakers and administrators across the state to inform the experiences of students in both rural and urban communities. 

In his first year as State CTE Coordinator, Roger plans to continue collaborating with the statewide CTE Council to develop a high school CTE certificate for the class of 2021. The expectation is that the certificate will help students signal to businesses their level of career readiness following graduation from the secondary level. In addition, Roger intends to develop state programs that support opportunities for teachers to obtain work-based learning and professional training.

“To me, our real bright spots are what our CTSOs are doing in the state,” Roger noted. 

Last year, Missouri saw 2 percent of its FFA students earn the American FFA degree — the highest degree an FFA member can receive — despite less than 0.5 percent of all FFA members nationwide earning this award. 

Recognizing the state’s history of developing leaders through CTE, Roger looks to continue uplifting students across the state to become Missouri’s next generation of CTE champions.

New Resources Available on Statewide Efforts to Boost Career Training

November 18th, 2019

Advance CTE has added new resources to the Learning that Works Resource Center that highlight recent state efforts to coordinate across systems and strengthen career readiness training. Delaware, for example, is building out its capacity to increase postsecondary attainment by scaling regional career pathways and work-based learning. Similarly, Rhode Island is leveraging its New Skills for Youth (NSFY) grant to restructure the state’s entire talent pipeline and strengthen connections across education and workforce systems. Since 2015, Rhode Island has seen a 56 percent increase in the number of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, a 38 percent increase in Advanced Placement course participation, and a tripling of the number of college credits earned by high school students. 

Massachusetts, another state that was awarded the NSFY grant, is also coordinating activities to significantly expand access to high-quality CTE programs. So far, increased investments in technical training equipment have led to a rapid expansion of the state’s career training capacity, resulting in more than 10,000 additional students enrolling in career training programs across Massachusetts. 

To learn more about these initiatives and related work, visit Advance CTE’s Resource Center

The Empire State Welcomes Amy Cox to State CTE Director Role

November 13th, 2019

Amy Cox recently took over as New York’s State CTE Director. Having managed both secondary and postsecondary state programs, she entered the position with strong leadership experience in statewide initiatives and a promising ability to helm the state’s CTE system. Prior to her current role, Amy spent over a decade at the New York State Office of Higher Education, where she worked on Teachers of Tomorrow, Race to the Top, Teacher Opportunity Corps and P-TECH. 

Amy’s list of priorities includes developing a comprehensive framework for work-based learning that is flexible across the state, as well as facilitating greater interdepartmental and stakeholder engagement to maximize programmatic effectiveness. 

With her experience at the intersections of CTE and various statewide initiatives, Amy is positioned to be a strong communicator across diverse stakeholder groups that have historically operated in silos. For example, she is currently strengthening bridges for collaboration between the secondary and postsecondary teams that are working on Perkins — with the goal being to develop a unified team. Looking across other departments and agencies in the state as well, Amy wants to stimulate deeper conversations on topics relating to CTE and encourage greater data transparency and sharing. 

At the programmatic level, Amy’s team will also work with the state’s Technical Assistance Center to assist local education agencies in developing approvable programs and expand access to CTE, working to ensure equitable access and support for underrepresented learners. Along with this work, her team is looking to build a comprehensive framework for work-based learning that is flexible and adaptive to regional needs in the state. 

Maryland Welcomes Tiara Booker-Dwyer to Helm State CTE System

October 28th, 2019

Beginning her career as a researcher in neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, Tiara Booker-Dwyer, Maryland’s new State CTE Director, has since built a remarkable career around improving educational success for learners in Maryland.

While at Hopkins, Tiara developed a passion for teaching and later went on to work at the middle school and high school levels. Leveraging her experience as a science teacher, Tiara continued supporting students through the Maryland Department of Education, where she led efforts to promote STEM under the Race to the Top initiative. While at the Department, she also served as the Executive Director for the Office of Leadership Development and School Improvement, as well as the Department’s 2016-2017 Ombudsman. 

A dynamic leader, Tiara entered her new role with a bold vision for CTE in Maryland. Among her priorities is to use Perkins funds over the next year to build a more inclusive CTE culture in the state. In addition, Tiara and her team are focused on supporting school counselors, teacher development and special populations of students.

Along with her deep history on the education side, Tiara spent two years as a program director for the Maryland Business Roundtable, where she supported collaboration between industry professionals and local schools districts. Leveraging this past work, Tiara is now collaborating with the business community to develop a professional counseling model to further support school counselors. 

“School counselors need more support. Maryland is proposing to use business and industry professionals to provide career counseling to CTE students.” 

Under the professional counseling model, groups of business professionals would be trained to go to schools and provide periodic career guidance to cohorts of students. This would provide students with valuable career insight opportunities while also allowing “school counselors to focus on mental health priorities and academic advising,” she said. 

Another focus for Tiara is around the professional growth of CTE teachers. “I recognize when we get CTE teachers from the field,” she explained, “they come in with the content and need support with pedagogy and classroom management. CTE teachers must be equipped with the skills, knowledge, and resources to meet the needs of all students, including English learners and students with disabilities.” To address this gap, Tiara is looking to provide CTE instructors from the field with professional learning experiences on differentiating instruction, using data to inform instructional interventions, engaging diverse learners and other forms of support to better enable them to be effective in preparing their students for a career field.

With strong support from state leadership, Tiara and her team are working to revitalize the state’s CTE system. Central to their vision for CTE in Maryland, she believes, is the opportunity to be bold.  

 

 

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