Spring Meeting Staff Reflections Part 1

May 31st, 2016

This time last week we were in the midst of our 2016 Advance CTE Spring Meeting which brought over 150 participants from across the country together to dive into all things CTE. From unveiling our new vision to diving into the federal policy landscape, staff takes a look back at what they found most valuable at this year’s meeting in this two-part series. 

Kimberly Green, Executive Director: Each year, Advance CTE hosts an annual awards ceremony that recognizes two categories of winners. The Stars of Education acknowledges leadership in our own community and those in Congress who fight the good fight on behalf of CTE.  This year, Dr. Charisse Childers, State Director in Arkansas won the Rising Star award and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) won the Star of Education award. We also recognize high-quality programs of study through our Excellence in Action Awards. The selection committee has over 100 applications from 30 states to review and selected 11 winners, each in a different Career Cluster.

I had the honor to emcee this year’s awards ceremony and truth be told I had to hold back tears as some of the winners made their remarks. Their commitment, leadership, inspiration and dedication results in changing the lives of thousands of students each year.  And this array of winners is proof that high-quality CTE can be successful in any and every community in our country.

What is common across all the winners is that they all have leaders who have an unrelenting commitment to quality, create cultures of high expectations, see obstacles as opportunities and put the learner first. My hope is by sharing and celebrating these winners, we both shine a light on their accomplishment but also position them as a beacon for others to benchmark against and learn from.

So to our winners, I say thank you. Thank you for reminding us that high expectations bring about excellence.  Thank you for proving that excellence can be found in any zip code and reminding us that high quality programs for all students – ALL students – is an achievable goal. Thank you for reminding us why we do this work but mostly thank you for what you do every day to help students find their voice, their path and their success.

Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director: For me, the release of our new vision was the absolute highlight of the Spring Meeting and, in particular, seeing all of our members and partners sign their commitment to this new vision. After over a year of planning – from the early design phase, the Future of CTE Summit hosted with our eight co-conveners, and the work to synthesize the many (many) awesome and innovative ideas to come out of that Summit – seeing the new shared vision in the hands of our members, Putting Learner Success First, was an amazing experience. From the presentation by Advance CTE officers, the panels of our vision supporters and feisty reformers and the Enacting the Vision roundtable, Monday demonstrated how impactful this vision can and will be within and beyond the CTE community and I can’t wait to start putting it into action!

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager: Along with the roll-out of Advance CTE’s new vision, federal policy was top of mind for many at our Spring Meeting. While we heard much about the forthcoming effort to renew the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins) towards the end of our conference, Perkins was a recurring theme throughout many of the conference sessions during the week.

The recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) also took center stage with both bills providing unique opportunities (as well as some challenges) for the CTE community in the coming years. The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) also provided some timely updates for attendees on some national initiatives of interest.

All in all, it was a great week for Advance CTE members and attendees alike to hear from leading experts, Congressional staff, and other stakeholders about what the federal policy environment has in store for CTE.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

#CTESpringMtg Twitter Wrap-up

May 26th, 2016

This year’s Spring Meeting was packed with exciting announcements, panels and discussions where participants voiced their opinions in the meeting room, and took to Twitter to keep the conversation going.

To kick off the Meeting, we unveiled the new Vision, Putting Learner Success First with accompanying panels discussing what this means for the education field. 

We discussed the latest policy trends at the federal level. 

We recognized our 2016 Star of Education and Excellence in Action Award winners during a ceremony that brought together Spring Meeting participants and 40 administrators, educators and students representing award-winning schools. Culinary Academy students from Central Campus of the Des Moines Public Schools kicked off the day with a tour of the Marriott kitchen. 

And we told our CTE stories. 

For the full discussion check out @CTEWorks using the #CTESpringMtg hashtag.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Excellence in Action Award Recipients Announced!

May 26th, 2016

On Tuesday we announced the 11 Excellence in Action award recipients that  demonstrate  innovative and high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE). The awardees were chosen by a national selection committee based on their proven ability to prepare students for education and career success, demanding coursework, high-quality work-based learning experiences, and sustained partnerships with education, business and community leaders.Iowa

Award winners include:

  • Tulare Join Union High School District Farm, CA (Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources)
  • Advanced Technologies Academy, NV (Architecture & Construction)
  • Vista PEAK Preparatory, CO (Business Management & Administration)
  • Peoria Unified School District, AZ (Education & Training)
  • Hamburg High School, NY (Finance)
  • Waubonsee Community College, IL (Health Science)
  • Central Campus of Des Moines Public Schools, IA (Hospitality & Tourism)
  • Southwest High School, TX (Information Technology)
  • Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, TX (Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security)
  • Desert View High School, AZ (Manufacturing)
  • Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center, MI (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)

Cesar“CTE should prepare all students for success in both postsecondary education and careers, and these programs of study do exactly that,” said Kimberly Green, Advance CTE Executive Director. “The eleven award winners were chosen, in part, due to their dedication to ensuring access to and supporting success for all students. We hope these programs of study serve as a model for leaders across the country by demonstrating what high-quality CTE looks like and can offer to students and communities.”

Scott Nail representing Upper Valley Career Center, a 2015 award recipient said, “What an amazing honor for UVCC to be chosen. This award has allowed UVCC to share best practices with federal policymakers and the White House administration, a testament to how CTE is being reshaped to help prepare students for high-demand, high-wage jobs.”

Award recipients were honored at the 2016 Advance CTE Spring Meeting at a luncheon where 40 administrators, educators and students traveled across the country to be recognized.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Title: The Pain and Promise of Change

May 19th, 2016

Looking online recently, I saw an image of a warning sign that read as follows:

DANGER: DO NOT TOUCHNC3T - Danger do not touch sign
Not only will this kill you,
but it will hurt the whole
time you are dying

While this sign may or may not have been mocked up for humorous effect, it reflects how many of us feel about the prospect of change. And not without cause: We probably all bear the scars of changes we weren’t fully prepared for, or worse, scars from “change management” efforts that went awry.

Why is this relevant? Because CTE is now awash in a sea of change. These changes are almost universally positive: Business and political leaders are realizing the value of CTE and their essential connection to workforce systems, and this is driving funding decisions (like JPMorgan Chase’s recent investment in the field), policy efforts (like WIOA federally, and countless efforts at the state level), and the push towards college and career pathways (where CTE should be a primary and driving force).

But even though the changes are positive, that doesn’t mean that they don’t offer the threat of danger and pain. Failing to meet the expectations of funders, industry partners, and policymakers can bring disappointment, diminished support, or even increased oversight. And most importantly, these changes offer a real opportunity to improve the future lives of students, and no one in education wants to be responsible for shortchanging them.

That’s why the National Center for College & Career Transitions (NC3T) was founded: To help secondary and postsecondary educators, industry partners, and community leaders successfully navigate the changing landscape and build quality CTE and pathways models that serve students and all other stakeholders.

The mission of the National Center for College & Career Transitions (NC3T) is for “every learner to have a dream NC3T logoand a plan, and every community to have a capable, ready workforce.” We support CTE offices and other stakeholders in the following areas:

  • Pathways System Design and Development – NC3T provides coaching for the design and implementation of college and career pathways. Our proven planning process and Pathways Design Specifications guide community leadership teams as they create pathways that help students transition from high school to postsecondary education/training to the skilled workforce.
  • Building Statewide Pathways Networks – NC3T manages state-level networks in Pennsylvania and Indiana to build awareness of, and engagement with, college and career pathways efforts, and is actively looking for additional states to support through its Pathways Innovation Network (PIN) model.
  • Employer Engagement Tools and Training – Businesses and schools need to connect; NC3T’s resources, workshops, and coaching make that happen by bringing everyone to the table.
  • Program Improvement Review – Using program quality criteria, NC3T professionals provide a structured process for reviewing and enhancing the quality of CTE and STEM programs.

NC3T is a proud supporter of Advance CTE – we look forward to seeing you all in May at the 2016 Spring Meeting  and working with you to capitalize on the opportunities that change provides.

Advance CTE Legislative Update: House Education Committee Holds Perkins Hearing while Senate CTE Caucus Hosts Career Pathways Briefing

May 19th, 2016

United States CapitalOn Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing to discuss ways to improve and modernize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). Due for reauthorization since 2013, the law has been in the early stages of consideration by the committee since an earlier subcommittee hearing last October.

The hearing gave a platform to four witnesses to provide perspectives on how Perkins could be strengthened through future legislation:

  • Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
  • Paul Tse, Project Manager, Shapiro & Duncan Inc.
  • Jason Bates, Manager, Toyota— Bodine Aluminum Inc.
  • Monty Sullivan, President, Louisiana Community and Technical College System

Chairman John Kline (R-MN) started the hearing off by emphasizing the bipartisan nature of Perkins and Career Technical Education (CTE), outlining a set of priorities he sees as important to a Perkins reauthorization effort.

During his written testimony, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) spoke at length about his passion for CTE and centered his remarks around several pieces of legislation he has introduced in the Senate to strengthen Perkins and bolster support for CTE. In particular, Sen. Kaine stressed the importance of defining and supporting high-quality CTE programs of study in the next Perkins Act, as he and his colleagues have proposed to do in the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act (ETWA). He also emphasized the significance of appropriately aligning Perkins to the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)— a key theme throughout the day.

Another topic that was repeatedly touched upon on Tuesday related to the need to strengthen other federal programs, such as federal financial aid programs in Title IV of the Higher Education Act, to more effectively support postsecondary CTE programs. While outside the direct scope of Perkins reauthorization, several witnesses as well as members of the committee highlighted this issue as something that would further strengthen postsecondary CTE.

This last point was underscored in particular by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) who pointed out that Perkins funding has depreciated by 24 percent since 1998. Other members of the committee echoed the need for additional funding for Perkins, while others argued that improvements should be made to Perkins to more efficiently make use of the federal investment in CTE. Dr. Sullivan for instance made a compelling argument that future Perkins legislation should focus on incentivizing program and student outcomes, rather than measuring program inputs for the purposes of accountability.

Witnesses also touched upon the importance of strengthening relationships between employers and programs. Jason Bodine of Toyota for instance highlighted his company’s participation in the Advanced Maintenance Technician (AMT) program— a partnership between Jackson State Community College and a consortium of area employers.

Other subjects that came up in the hearing included strengthening supports for career guidance and advisement and the need to increase awareness of CTE opportunities at earlier stages in a student’s life. At the hearing’s conclusion Chairman Kline expressed optimism about the prospects for Perkins reauthorization in this Congress and underlined the need for bipartisan cooperation as discussions continue to take shape on the committee.

All witness testimony and the chairman’s opening remarks can be found here. To watch the archived video of the hearing, click here.

Career Pathways: Exploring the Partnership Pipeline

Last week the Senate CTE Caucus, in conjunction with the Alliance for Excellent Education, hosted a briefing dedicated to exploring partnership opportunities to develop and expand career pathways. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who opened the panel with brief remarks, framed the nature of the problem with a jarring statistic: with 300,000 individuals out of work in Ohio and 160,000 jobs unfilled, closing the skills gap is “incredibly important work right now.”

And just how do we go about equipping young people with the skills to fill these high-demand positions? Dr. Scott Ralls, President of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), described how career pathways could fan out from a 2-year degree program, enabling students to either pursue additional postsecondary education or enter the workforce after obtaining a certificate in a high-demand field like cybersecurity.

Over on the West Coast, Superintendent John Snavely described Porterville Unified School District’s (PUSD) Linked Learning approach. This model combines rigorous academics, career-based classroom learning, work-based learning, and integrated student supports to propel students through relevant career pathways. With support from third-party intermediaries like Innovate Tulare-Kings, which engages regional business partners in Central California to connect students with experiential learning opportunities, PUSD has been able to continue the learning experience outside of the classroom.

The panel discussion can be viewed in its entirety here (beginning 22 minutes in).

Odds & Ends

  • The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) released a useful FAQ resource for states as they make the transition to ESSA over the coming year.
  • USDE, along with 11 other federal agencies, re-released a letter of support for career pathways systems development. The letter has been updated to reflect WIOA’s statutory definition for a career pathway, reiterates the six key elements of a career pathway system, and provides a useful toolkit for implementation. More here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager and Austin Estes, Policy Associate 

Why Computer Science for All Is Not a False Peak

May 16th, 2016

Anyone who has ever climbed a mountain knows the experience of a false peak: the exhilaration of finally reaching what has looked like the top Oracle -of the mountain all day, only to summit and see that the real peak is further on and higher up.

Sometimes these historical apex moments—like the public recognition of the importance of computer science education culminating in the White House’s announcement of the Computer Science for All initiative—can seem like a false peak. It’s all there: the challenge, the endurance, the euphoria of reaching the top, and then the difficult realization that there is still a long way to go.

But: there is how things seem, and then there is reality.

For those of us who have been working in computer science education for some time, the two months since President Obama announced the CS for All initiative have been nothing short of amazing. In the blink of an eye, the relative moonscape that was the U.S. computer science (CS) education space has become a Los Angeles freeway at rush hour—and we could not be happier about that. Evidence that our kids need access to computer science education abounds, from Bureau of Labor Statistics data to corporate anecdotes, and with new state-level efforts, coding camps, non-profit organizations, schools and traditional curriculum providers all entering and strengthening the conversation, there is now a real opportunity for our kids to get that education. And I don’t just mean kids with techie parents or kids in affluent schools—Computer Science for All challenges us to make CS education available to every American student, everywhere. It’s an important, and worthy, challenge.

That’s why I’m especially proud that my company, Oracle, is formally making a Computer Science for All commitment today. Although we’ve been working to advance computer science education globally for more than two decades, we’re usually pretty quiet about the work we do. Through our flagship Oracle Academy program, we work to serve educators and provide them the skills and tools they need—including academic, vendor-neutral curriculum—to bring computer science to life with passion in the classroom. We teach teachers and help fill the CS education supply pipeline. We engage with a range of partners, organizations, and events to introduce kids to computer science and inspire them to become tomorrow’s technology innovators and leaders. In all, we invest more than $3.3 billion in resources annually to help educators bring computer science to more than 2.5 million students in 106 countries.

At Oracle, we have been successfully partnering with public education for a long time. We know that an investment in education is very much like climbing a mountain; the children who were primary school students when we started this work in 1993 are just now 20-somethings in the workforce. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and seeing an investment yield real results takes endurance, patience, and faith. The investment we make in introducing a first grader to computer science today will not realize its full potential until the year 2034, or beyond.

Given timelines like this, there is the potential for Computer Science for All to be a false peak in computing education. It is a much needed infusion of focus, passion, and funding into a vitally important issue, and we, as a nation, are now at a high point where we can look proudly back at where we’ve been, and what we’ve done. But we can also more clearly see the work still ahead. Of the people and organizations on this peak today, who will become discouraged and turn away when the wins aren’t quick and the resources become scarce? And who will persevere?

Those of us who are committed to supporting education, though, know that achieving success in education isn’t like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, a freestanding mountain surrounded by plains. It’s more like mountaineering in the Rockies; for every peak you climb, there is always another summit to reach. Make no mistake: Computer Science for All is a summit. It is an honor for me, as a part of Oracle, to join this strong and committed Computer Science for All cohort. Now, more than ever before, access to computer science education is the key to economic growth and social mobility. We’re all on this journey with our children—for our children. Won’t you join us?

 This post was written by Oracle, a sponsor of the 2016 Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.! 

Safety is a Life Skill

May 13th, 2016

How many of us have taken the time to think about our first safety training? Most of us think about a CareerSafe Logo Orange Blue (1)safety lesson in school or a safety course at work, but in reality it began at home long before we understood completely what we were being told. Do you remember when your mom would yell, “No! Don’t touch that pan, you will burn yourself!” Or perhaps you remember your father saying, “Get out of that tree! You’ll fall and hurt yourself!” Do you remember someone yelling at you, “Stop playing with those matches! Do you want to burn the house down?” All these life instructions were meant to keep us safe and healthy which is why, at CareerSafe, we advocate — “Safety is a Life Skill”— and as such, safety awareness training is not just the responsibility of employers.

Long before students start their first paying job, they work around the house, on their family farm or ranch, at school, in student organizations, volunteering, or at places of worship. In each of these settings, young people are exposed to many of the same hazards they will find in the workplace. If you Google®” student dies”, you will get 153 million results in 0.43 seconds. We do not have to look very hard to find that hazards to students are everywhere all the time. It sad to think that many of these lives might have been saved if only these students had been better prepared to avoid commonly encountered safety hazards.

Our sons and daughters are the future and they deserve a foundation of safety awareness training as part of their life skills long before they reach their first employer. Providing students with safety training early is crucial to establishing good safety and health practices before our children develop bad habits that place them at risk. We must recognize that safety is not simply the concern of business, but requires the responsibility of people at all levels of our communities in order to protect those who are least prepared and most at risk.

There is a reason why our parents and the other adults in our lives spent so much time telling us what not to do. They love us. This love is what drove them to constantly correct our behavior. They wanted to make sure we would understand how to recognize and avoid those life hazards that would place us at risk. In our role as CTE educators, we have a responsibility to share our life lessons to help students build a solid foundation of safety awareness as part of their preparation for managing and living a better quality of life. Let’s always remember that No Job is Worth a Young Worker’s Life.
About CareerSafe
Since 2003, more than 670,000 students have enrolled into CareerSafe safety training programs. By providing fundamental safety knowledge and awareness to entry-level workers, students enter the workforce more confident, capable, and efficient. CareerSafe’s OSHA 10-Hour training courses give students the opportunity to lay a long-term groundwork for future career success. At a cost of $25 per student, CareerSafe provides the most affordable authorized online OSHA training programs in the country. America’s youth are our future. Make safety a priority. For additional information about CareerSafe, visit our website.

This post was written by CareerSafe, a sponsor of our 2016 Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. 

CTE Research Review: Work-Based Learning, Teacher Shortages and Longitudinal Data

May 11th, 2016

In this week’s Research Review, we take a deep dive into New York City’s CTE movement, examine state teacher shortages, and explore strategies and challenges to building longitudinal data systems.

Work-based Learning and Industry Credentials in New York City

The Manhattan Institute released a new report looking at the state of Career Technical Education (CTE) in New York City, titled “The New CTE: New York City as a Laboratory for America.” While the authors largely praise the success of New York City’s instructional CTE programs — which have demonstrated less variable attendance and higher graduation rates — they offer two policy recommendations to further improve the quality and effectiveness of the system:

  • Mandate and fund schools to secure work-based learning opportunities for students. To do this, schools must engage industry partners that continue to treat CTE like a philanthropic endeavor rather than a strategic investment.
  • Improve state processes for certifying CTE teachers and approving industry-recognized credentials to be more flexible and responsive to industry advances and emerging occupations.

How are states responding to teacher shortages?

The Education Commission of the States’ (ECS) new series on staffing policies, “Mitigating Teacher Shortages,” provides an optimistic outlook on the national staffing crisis. The number of schools reporting a vacancy is down 15 percentage points overall since 2000. However, ECS finds there is a struggle to fill positions in hard-to-staff subject areas and in high-poverty, low-achieving, rural, and urban schools. This five-part series examines research on teacher shortages and recommendations from state task forces, finding five common policy interventions to address staffing shortages: alternative certification, financial incentives, induction and mentorship, evaluation and feedback, and teacher leadership. Each brief explores extant research in each focus area and provides state examples and policy recommendations.

Stitching together Longitudinal Data Systems

Two new reports — one from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) and the other from New America — explore how states can align data systems to better track student outcomes after high school.

  • WDQC’s report, “Making the Most of Workforce Data,” highlights best practices from Kentucky, Minnesota and New York, each of which has established linked systems that facilitate data sharing and evaluation to varying degrees. In Kentucky, for example, interagency data-sharing agreements allowed the state to evaluate outcomes for students taking college-level coursework through AdvanceKentucky, providing evidence to increase funding for the program.
  • In “Is Stitching State Data Systems the Solution to the College Blackout?,” Iris Palmer at New America proposes a different solution to the nation’s data sharing woes — a state-based federal data system. She argues that this system, which would be operated by a third party and would only share anonymized data, could build on existing data infrastructure and allow states to examine cross-state student outcomes for more detailed analysis. A pilot project between Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington helped close gaps, uncovering outcomes data for more than nine percent of individuals missing from the labor records in Washington alone.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Today’s Class: Filling the Soft Skills Gap

May 10th, 2016

When it comes to finding a job, candidates need to play up their “soft” side. A 2014 survey* found that 77% of employers believe that “softTodays Class Logo- Registred Trademark-1-7-14 skills”  — skills that include positive attitude, work ethic, initiative, dependability and other traits — are just as essential as hard skills when it comes to job success. Pair this need with a rapidly changing job market that requires candidates to adapt and it’s clear that workplace readiness skills are an essential part of any CTE program.

The Workplace Readiness curriculum from Today’s Class was developed to help fill the gap in soft skills for CTE students. The curriculum is based around the following core areas:

Reading skills: Reading for comprehension, making inferences, and following instructions.

Writing skills: Audience and purpose, gathering information, devising a layout, writing drafts, editing, and proofreading.

Math skills: Measurements, basic algebraic formulas, handling cash, and finances.

Work ethic: Integrity, responsibility, initiative, productivity, and other necessary character traits for successful professionals.

The Today’s Class Workplace Readiness program follows guidelines set forth by NOCTI in its 21st Century Skills for Workplace Success blueprint. The program will be further developed over the coming year to fully mirror the NOCTI guidelines and ensure students are receiving the most comprehensive program in career preparedness.

One of the most essential skills for workplace success is the ability to collaborate and work closely with others. The Today’s Class Workplace Readiness program places an emphasis on team-based activities to help students learn how to work within a team. This team-based approach also helps to hone students’ problem-solving, critical thinking, and leadership abilities.

Career readiness requires a multi-disciplinary approach and encompasses a wide variety of skills and characteristics. The Today’s Class Workplace Readiness curriculum aims to help make teaching these skills easier and more effective for instructors, while giving students accessible materials and activities to prepare them for the careers of today and tomorrow.

Today’s Class is a proud supporter of CTE and is a Gold Level Sponsor of the Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

*2014 Harris Poll for Careerbuilder.com of 2,138 hiring managers and HR professionals

Putting Learner Success First

May 9th, 2016

 

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Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, establishes a bold vision for all of education, using CTE as an essential strategy. The vision calls for a systemic transformation of the education system, and identifies CTE strengths and role in this transformation. It challenges our community to continue on the path of fierce dedication to quality and equity, while providing the leadership necessary to continue to re-examine, grow and transform CTE into a system that truly prepares all students for a lifetime of success. This vision for CTE is supported by Advance CTE and seven organizations including: Association for Career and Technical Education, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges, National Skills Coalition, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

This vision is the result a convening held in fall of 2015 that brought together leaders from the local to national levels to help map the current landscape of CTE, and think strategically about a path forward for the field. Advance CTE and co-conveners gathered ideas and recommendations to create a Putting Learner Success First, which offers the following recommendations:

  • All CTE programs are held to the highest standards of excellence
  • All learners are empowered to choose a meaningful education and career
  • All learning is personalized and flexible
  • All learning is facilitated by knowledgeable experts
  • All systems work together to put learner success first

Learn more about Putting Learner Success First in our press release, and read the full document here. Be sure to check out blogs from two of our supporting organizations, Association for Career and Technical Education and National Skills Coalition.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

 

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