“College and career ready” has been the buzz phrase floating in education and policy circles, but only recently has the term been linked to what many outside of the CTE community refer to as “alternative” colleges – community colleges and technical schools. A recent New York Times article reveals the shift in perspective as education and economic stakeholders recognize the growing value of two-year and industry-focused programs and institutions.
In “Plan B: Skip College”, Jacques Steinberg describes the current economic crisis as the catalyst for the nation to rethink the best way to prepare people to succeed in the workforce. Through a CTE lens, Steinberg’s article does fault by equating education and economic experts call for industry-focused credentials or two-year degrees with a “no college at all” pathway. However, the article does suggest a strong case for postsecondary education outside of four-year institutions.
Steinberg notes that no more than half of students who began a four-year bachelor’s degree program in the fall of 2006 will graduate within six years. The potential loss of time and money is evident. Further, not only is four-year postsecondary education prohibitively expensive for many people, it is also not a requirement for some of the fastest growing jobs in our economy:
“Among the top 10 growing job categories, two require college degrees: accounting (a bachelor’s) and postsecondary teachers (a doctorate). But this growth is expected to be dwarfed by the need for registered nurses, home health aides, customer service representatives and store clerks. None of those jobs require a bachelor’s degree.”
This article highlights the opportunities now available for CTE to capture the nation’s attention. More people are looking for postsecondary alternatives, recognizing that four-year colleges cannot be the only answer for our nation’s students. Students must be college and career ready, and we, the CTE community, must find ways to show the effectiveness of our programs at contributing to economic return by keeping more students in school and on track and by providing them with the skills necessary to enter the workplace.
See the complete article here.