Advance CTE Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: From Pipelines to Gardening

This post is written by the National Center for College and Career Transitions or NC³T, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting.

The most common image when talking about workforce development is that of a “leaky pipeline;” where we lose people at every key transition point along the way to the labor pool. In high school, we lose learners who drop out before graduation. Among those who do graduate, we lose the ones who don’t go on to some form of postsecondary education. Among those who do pursue postsecondary credentials, we have another round of dropouts who leave before earning a degree or certification. As a result, the final pool of qualified workers is much smaller than the pool we started out with.

Our workforce development model was designed in the 1960s, and it worked because the largest demographic cohort in history – the Baby Boomers – feed into the pipeline. There were a limited number of jobs requiring advanced skills or credentials. But things have changed – the Boomers are retiring, and the number of jobs requiring advanced education and training has grown exponentially.

To deal with this challenge, NC³T is advocating for a “gardening” mentality, in which every seed is nurtured. That means providing every single learner with opportunities to explore the world of work, gain hands-on experiences, identify their interests, develop a path and pursue the college and career options that provide the best possible fit. It works for them as students – there’s plenty of research on improved outcomes and levels of engagement – and it works for them as entrants into the workforce. And of course, it works for employers as well.

Our approach is one of Career Connected Learning, ensuring that connections to the real world – specifically, the world of work – are made for every learner. This is the heart of Career Technical Education (CTE). Our role is to build awareness, advocate, train, and support the work that educators and policymakers are doing in this arena. We look forward to working with all of you to build and manage rich, engaging experiences for all learners. Visit our website here.


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