Employer-Driven Innovations in CTE

On Friday, October 20th, the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) and the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) hosted the “Employer-Driven Innovations in CTE: Promise, Practice, & Opportunities for Policy Capitol Hill forum,” moderated by Jennifer Brown Lerner of AYPF. Presentations, followed by a panel discussion, were given by Mary Visher, Senior Associate, MDRC; Stanley S. Litow, President Emeritus, IBM International Foundation and Vice President Emeritus, IBM Corporate Citizenship; Cate Swinburn, President, YouthForce NOLA and Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor, Workforce & Digital Futures, California Community Colleges System. 

The forum showcased trends and new movements in CTE, and some highlights included:

  • MDRC’s emphasis that CTE must include both college and career pathways. Visher also spoke about the important relationship between employer needs and student needs, and expressed that programs must address both.
  • IBM’s P-TECH program, “a new grade 9-14 public school model focused on STEM fields and Career and Technical Education,” reported increased academic achievement in its partner schools. This model is also attempting to reduce the stigma around CTE through new terminology. For example, “soft skills” are labeled as “essential skills” and the phrase “new collar” is used to refer to the evolving job market. 
  • YouthForce NOLA broke down career readiness into three parts: job-specific skills; soft skills and work experience. Skilled crafts, health sciences and creative/tech were named as three of the most relevant career sectors today.
  • The California Community College System is emphasizing the value of a postsecondary experience in the current workforce. The state has a shortage of skilled employees with an associate’s degree, certificates or industry-valued credentials. Ton-Quinlivan also spoke about the need for colleges to work together regionally to meet the skills demand, instead of competing with one another.

Support for reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) was firm and widespread. Multiple groups acknowledged the need for current Perkins funds to be used to address the workforce demands through experiential learning and collaboration (between secondary and postsecondary, as well as regionally).

Meredith Hills, Graduate Fellow for Federal Policy

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