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Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

New State CTE Director: Curtis Clough, Alaska

June 23rd, 2015

Curtis Clough
State Administrator—Career and Technical Education
Department of Education and Early Development
Alaska

How did you come to be the State CTE Director in your state?

I am new to the state of Alaska as of October 2014 coming from the state of Ohio as superintendent of Strasburg Franklin Local Schools. Over the last eight years I have experienced Career Technical Education (CTE) through both secondary and postsecondary settings, as a superintendent and in my role as Academic Chair for Mohave Community College-Neal Campus in Kingman, Arizona where I oversaw both academic and CTE programs. With over 25 years of experience in education, I have progressed to the state level to assist in advancing educational opportunities for all students and engaging our partners in a process that prepares individuals at all levels for career readiness so people can be active members of the workforce and society.

What are your major goals for CTE in your state?

The state of Alaska has several goals for the upcoming years for CTE. First, the state is engaging in a dialogue on the “level of expectations” for all students in exemplar programs and courses that align to industry needs and standards. A cross-pathway approach is being discussed that establishes some minimal level of performance in reading, writing and math as well as in technical and employability skills, such as technology and problem solving, that prepares students beyond high school graduation and can be addressed through curriculum and work-based learning.
In addition, the state is exploring ways to deliver programming to our rural districts so all students have access to quality CTE programs that are aligned to industry standards and credentials. This is being done by looking at professional development models for our teachers and administrators as well as content delivery models including online instruction so students have access to a blended model of coursework and real-work experiences.

Finally, aligning pathways across secondary and postsecondary systems is another major goal of ours, with the inclusion of apprenticeships, internships and other work-based learning opportunities. We want to create a multi-entry system across all levels of education so that future employees are meeting the workforce development needs of Alaska and our priority industries and occupations.

What do you think your biggest challenges are in your new role as State CTE Director?

Incorporating CTE into the school day is quite a struggle for our districts because of the costs and associated graduation requirements that hinder flexibility in schedules for students. This made more challenging because of our current budget crunch that is occurring because of the decline in oil prices. Districts have limited resources for CTE programming in this tight financial climate and are being asked to do more with less funding.

Also, creating standardized expectations for academic and technical skills across pathways is going to be a challenge because of the geography of Alaska. With unique local needs as well as the needs of the state, expectations can be very different. For example, welding is a growing need in our state, but many regions choose to focus their programs on local industries like maritime, construction or oil and gas processes. Setting that minimum level of expectation for students is difficult due to the distinct regional and local needs.

Finally, teacher recruitment and sustaining a professional development model for our teachers and administrators are other potential issues as the staff turnover and attrition in our rural districts is high. If an educator or administrator has received the proper training and opportunity for advancement in CTE, he or she may move on to bigger opportunities in our urban areas or move to another district that offers more options career-wise. This is a continuous issue for the state and developing strategies to address this problem are being considered at this time.

What do you think the future of CTE looks like in your state?

The opportunity for CTE in our state is bright. The “We3” partners – the Department of Education and Early Development, Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the University of Alaska – have been working collaboratively on addressing the points of the State CTE Plan and many of the issues stated above. Currently, these partners have been working together to establish “levels of expectations” for students for workforce readiness, as we implement the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As part of this process, the partners engage in bi-weekly meetings to review various aspects of the WIOA requirements and how to best align WIOA and the State CTE Plan, which is currently in progress, so CTE can continue to expand and grow the Alaska workforce at all levels.

Also, due to the aging workforce and there is a catalyst for industry and postsecondary partners to work together to meet the needs of our future workforce. Active discussions are taking place outside the normal channels in cross-sector strategy meetings, with representation from the “We3” partners so all avenues and opportunities are explored and strategies developed with partner input that can be sustained for the years to come in Alaska.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

June 19th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
CTE and STEM Education: Two Sides of the Same Vital Coin
Career Technical Education is key to improving STEM literacy and interest among students for a variety of reasons. This includes providing access to underrepresented students, adding relevance to STEM subjects through hand-on and work based learning and integrating the business community.
Read More

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Transforming Career Counseling: Bridging School to Career in the Workforce of the Future
The Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, SME and Bray Strategies released a paper outlining recommendations to improve the career guidance counseling system in middle and high schools.
Read More 

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK
In partnership with the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center, NASDCTEc is conducting a webinar exploring the highly successful Simulated Workplace system in West Virginia.
Register Today

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Legislative Update: Reauthorization Efforts Push Ahead for ESEA, WIOA NPRM Comment Period Ends as Funding Battles in and HEA Reauthorization Continue in Congress

June 18th, 2015

CapitolAfter a flurry of legislative activity in the Senate early last month, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee successfully reported out the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) from the committee—legislation aimed at reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Read our earlier coverage of the legislation here and the text of the bill, as reported out of committee, here. ECAA is the product of bipartisan negotiations between HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and marks the closest either Congressional chamber has come towards reauthorizing ESEA in several years.

Since clearing the HELP committee last month, lawmakers on and off the committee have been gearing up for the Chamber’s full consideration of the legislation, finalizing a series of amendments that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle hope will improve the largest annual federal investment in K-12 education. As currently written and amended, ECAA has a number of notable Career Technical Education-related provisions:

  • A requirement that state academic standards be aligned with relevant state-identified CTE standards
  • Provisions requiring at least one metric in the state’s accountability system that is indicative of student postsecondary or workforce readiness
  • The elimination of the harmful “highly-qualified teacher” provision
  • Explicit support of elementary and secondary school counseling in Title IV of the bill
  • A new provision that requires the inclusion of student attainment rates of CTE proficiencies, as currently defined by the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins), in state and local report card systems

NASDCTEc expects ECAA to most likely be brought up for full Senate consideration shortly after the July 4th Congressional recess, but the possibility of the bill being brought to the floor sooner still remains a goal of many in the Chamber. However, with defense-related legislation currently up for debate, the window for consideration is quickly closing. Lawmakers will have to decide between ECAA and additional trade legislation later today which will ultimately determine the timeline for ECAA’s consideration. Nevertheless, NASDCTEc is continuing to work and support a number of promising CTE-related amendments in the upcoming debate, whenever that may be.

Shifting over to the House, H.R. 5 or the Student Success Act still remains on hold after the Chamber pulled the bill from floor consideration earlier this year. In May, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) released a memo outlining his caucus’ June agenda which included the possibility of further consideration of the bill. However, no formal action has been taken since that time. Nevertheless, there has been new talk about the legislation being brought to the floor under a new rule relatively soon that will allow members of the House to vote on several amendments before final passage. If both Chambers pass their respective ESEA proposals, the next hurdle will be reconciling the two bills—a challenging feat considering the large differences between ECAA and the Student Success Act.

As both of these processes unfold, be sure to check back here for updates on ESEA activity and what that means for the wider CTE community.

NASDCTEc & ACTE Weigh-In on WIOA NPRM

Late last year, Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)—legislation that reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities, the bill’s passage was only the first step in what will be an extensive implementation process. Since that time, the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Education (USDE), and Health and Human Services (HHS) have been hard at work drafting proposed rules for carrying out WIOA’s new provisions. After missing their statutory deadline earlier this year, the Departments finally released these proposed rules in what is known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The regulations, which can be viewed here, were released in five separate releases, each focused on different aspects of WIOA and were opened up to the public for comment and further discussion.

NASDCTEc, along the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), participated in this comment period and issued a joint response that can be viewed here. It is important to note that the NPRM’s remain simply a proposal until the Departments finalize these rules by January 2016. So long as the Departments adhere to this statutory deadline, the CTE community can expect much more clarity regarding the law’s implementation at that time.

Nevertheless, throughout the NPRMs, the Departments make many references to “future joint planning guidance” as it relates to WIOA’s combined state planning provisions—a state plan option available under the new law that could allow Perkins programs to be included in a state’s overall plan for its WIOA activities. While a specific release date for that guidance remains uncertain, NASDCTEc remains hopeful that the Departments will expedite its release to support further state planning and a greater degree of cross systems collaboration.

Postsecondary Education Updates

In addition to prioritizing the reauthorization of ESEA, the education committees in both the House and the Senate have also set to work to renew the Higher Education Act (HEA)— legislation that governs the nation’s largest investment in postsecondary education among many other important features. As the reauthorization process for ESEA continues, lawmakers from both Chambers have reiterated their desire to pursue HEA reauthorization later this autumn.

Since that time, HEA activity has primarily centered in the Senate where HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) recently solicited public input on a series of white papers focused on three broad issues the committee would like to tackle in a newly reauthorized HEA:

NASDCTEc and ACTE provided formal comments on the accreditation and consumer information pieces as a supplement to the comments both organizations endorsed and supported from the Postsecondary Data Collaborative. Following the comment period, the HELP Committee has hosted two hearings on issues related to the topics covered in these papers. A helpful overview of the hearing on consumer information can be found here and more information related to yesterday’s hearing on accreditation can be found here. In between these hearings, both the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the HELP Committee announced staff working groups to address four major issues related to the reauthorization process on accountability, accreditation, financial aid, and campus safety.

One of the most critical issues for NASDCTEc during the HEA reauthorization process has been repealing the ban on the creation of a postsecondary student unit record system (read NASDCTEc’s full HEA priorities here). In May, Senators Rubio (R-FL), Wyden (D-OR), and Warner (D-VA) reintroduced the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act (S. 1195) which would do just that. By amending HEA, the bill would require postsecondary institutions who are Title IV eligible to submit student-level data to USDE. This data would then be matched with tax data from the Social Security Administration to produce aggregated information on median student earnings for programs at two, six, and 15 years after completion. The information would be disaggregated by various student groups with the aim of sharing this information with the broader public who could then make more informed choices about postsecondary education. NASDCTEc was strongly supportive of this legislation and it is important to note that elements of this bill have begun to gain some traction in the wider HEA reauthorization process.

In the postsecondary regulatory arena, USDE’s final “Gainful Employment” regulations have cleared a significant legal obstacle, with a U.S. District Court judge tossing out the Association of Proprietary Colleges’ lawsuit over the new rules. A separate lawsuit, from the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, is still ongoing and barring any further judicial interventions stemming from that case, the new regulations will go into effect starting July 1, 2015.

USDE also recently released important institutional guidance on student eligibility for Pell Grants and other federal financial aid programs authorized under Title IV of HEA. The letter provides further clarification regarding the recent restoration of HEA’s “ability-to-benefit” (ATB) provision which allows students who do not have a high school diploma to receive financial aid if enrolled in an eligible career pathway program. The letter clarifies what a career pathway program must do to be eligible under this provision and clarifies the dates of eligibility for students enrolling before or after July 1, 2015. NASDCTEc has continued to advocate for ATB provisions in the next iteration of HEA and remains hopeful that this option will be strengthened for students moving forward.

House Marks Up Perkins Funding Bill

Following up on what we shared Tuesday, the House appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-ED) successfully reported out an appropriations bill yesterday after a two hour hearing on the draft bill. USDE, along with the Perkins Act, both derive funding from this legislation. Although it still remains unclear how much funding the drafters of the bill intend to designate to CTE and the Perkins Act, the bill would dramatically reduce funding for USDE’s discretionary budget.

It is important to note that this cut is the result of Congress’ self-imposed sequester caps for this fiscal year and fiscal years into the next decade, as mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). One of the main themes throughout the hearing was the need to change the underlying BCA legislation to increase these caps in order to design an appropriations bill that can adequately fund much needed investments in education and workforce development programs— a desire expressed by members of both parties.

Nevertheless, all Democratic amendments that were put forward to increase funding for various portions of the bill were voted down along party lines, ostensibly because such proposals would violate the sequester caps. The bill is now moving on to the full House appropriations committee where it is expected to be marked up sometime next week. A draft report and table for the bill— which will include more specific information related to Perkins funding— will be released 24 hours prior to this markup.

NASDCTEc is also expecting similar appropriations activity in the Senate, beginning as early as next week. Be sure to check back here for further updates and analysis of the Congressional appropriations process and what that means for the CTE community.

Odds and Ends

  • USDE has recently announced the next round of its Investing in Innovation (I3) grants for high school redesign. The Department has expanded the types of schools applicants can propose to implement redesign strategies. More information on the application process can be found here.
  • DOL recently announced the states eligible to apply for a portion of $9 million in WIA incentive grant awards. The funds are available for use through June 30, 2017 are intended to support innovative workforce development and education initiatives. More information can be found here.
  • Recently a group of regional accreditors announced a common framework for defining and approving competency-based education programs. Find more information about the effort here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

New State CTE Director: Guy Jackson, Wyoming

June 17th, 2015

Guy Jackson, State CTE Director
Wyoming Department of Education

Over the past year we have had a number of new State CTE Directors join NASDCTEc. Over the next few months, we will take a look into each new State CTE Director’s challenges, opportunities and goals for his or her tenure. For our first in the series, we spoke to Guy Jackson, State CTE Director in Wyoming.

  1. How did you come to be the State CTE Director in your state?

In high school I was very interested in anything mechanical (cars, aircraft, etc.) but went on to college and earned a B.S.Ed. from the University of Memphis.  I started flying during college and decided to get my aircraft maintenance technician certificate and FAA Aircraft Mechanic’s License and worked in aviation for several years.  My career in Career Technical Education (CTE) began when I moved to Wyoming to teach at an aviation maintenance technician school.  After 26 years of teaching and education administration, I took a consultant position with the Wyoming Department of Education and administration at postsecondary technical schools.  From there, I was promoted to the Wyoming State CTE Director in March of this year.

  1. What are your major goals for CTE in your state? And what do you think your biggest challenges are in your new role as State CTE Director?

My first priority is to provide professional development to existing educators in building effective CTE programs that result in graduates that are college and career ready.

There are a multitude of challenges to this. This includes:

  • Educators and administrators occasionally view Wyoming Department of Education-provided professional development opportunities as having no value to their classroom and instructional needs.
  • Ensuring career advising is a shared effort among educators, as school counselors do not currently have the capacity to provide all students with the necessary information and resources to make good decisions about school programs, colleges and careers.
  • Educating teachers in academic and technical-based skills. CTE teachers are more likely to have experience in project-based learning and lack advanced academic subject knowledge or formal training in the integration of academics into their technical coursework.

Though the challenges are there, it opens opportunities to work with the community to advance this priority. We will achieve this by working with Perkins secondary and postsecondary coordinators, CTE curriculum coordinators, and district instructional/training coordinators to develop and deliver effective, meaningful teacher professional development. We also hope to provide ‘academy’ offerings that help teachers implement best practices and innovative curriculum and encourage academic core and career technical teachers to integrate their subject areas.

Additionally, we plan to develop a state web-based career development and exploration platform that will available to every student, parent and educator in Wyoming, as well as work to encourage and facilitate teacher summer externship opportunities across the career pathways.

My second priority is to encourage districts to adopt regional strategies that promote collaboration among districts and institutions.

The largest challenge to achieving this priority is that most high schools are unable to offer more than four or five comprehensive career pathways with a full complement of academic and technical courses.  Rural districts and high schools with less than 200 students find it difficult to offer more than two career pathways.

Despite this barrier, we can encourage districts to collaborate with neighboring districts to organize complementary career cluster and career pathway offerings as well as create inter-district transfer opportunities for students and teachers. Critical to accomplishing this will be regional CTE strategy meetings and trainings.

My third priority is to facilitate business/industry and education partnerships. This has its challenges in that two-way communication between business/industry and education is not always consistent due to time, budget and other resource constraints. Also, formal apprenticeship programs often do not want to include high school CTE students due to liability issues.

We are looking to overcome this is by convening regional and statewide teams of academic and CTE secondary and postsecondary instructors along with industry representatives to develop competencies and CTE assessments in career pathways that are most important to the state economy. Also, we want to encourage local business and industry investment and support through funding, in-kind gifts, and externship opportunities for educators. Finally, we need to find solutions to liability issues so that we can connect high school students with formal apprenticeship programs.

My last priority is to strengthen teacher preparation programs and remove obstacles to hiring effective CTE teachers, particularly critical as many of our state CTE teachers are close to retirement.  Districts and administrators are finding it difficult to hire effective and qualified CTE teachers, which often results in the discontinuation of a CTE program.

We have identified some possible solutions to these obstacles. We will identify instructional activities that can be used in teacher preparation programs to prepare new teachers using innovative delivery systems. Along with identifying activities, we want to support the expansion of CTE teacher preparation programs at the University of Wyoming by encouraging teacher candidates to pursue dual certification in academic and technical subject areas and validate that Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board CTE teacher endorsement is meeting the state’s needs.

  1. What do you think the future of CTE looks like in your state?

The future of CTE in Wyoming is dependent on the state’s ability to support innovation in CTE to meet its education, workforce and economic needs.  That support is based on our state’s CTE funding in addition to Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education funding.  Though we are a small, rural state with limited funding, the Governor Matt Mead and Jillian Balow, Superintendent of Public Instruction recognize and support CTE in our state.

We look forward to working with our state school districts and community colleges to advance best practices in Wyoming Career Technical Education.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

ACTE Launches Microdocs Initative Aiming to Tell the CTE Story

June 17th, 2015

The Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) launched its Microdocs initiative today. The series of films are designed to inspire student to follow their passions through Career Technical Education (CTE) through the power of storytelling. The videos highlight students’ experiences in CTE from 3-D printing to green energy, and will be distributed to educators, parents and career guidance counselors to share with students.

Interested in supporting the Microdocs initiative?  ACTE began their first-ever crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo, which will support the creation of more stories on topics such as aeronautical engineering and cyber-security.

Learn more about this initiative on Indigogo and on ACTE’s website.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

 

Legislative Update: House Subcommittee Considers Perkins Funding Bill

June 16th, 2015

2014-11-Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-washington-dc-back-Marko-BerndtTomorrow morning the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-ED) will mark-up an appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016— the portion of the federal budget that funds the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and, relatedly, the Carl D. Perkins Act’s (Perkins) basic state grant program. While still a long way off from the House’s full consideration, reconciliation with a forthcoming Senate proposal, and ultimate enactment, the subcommittee’s mark-up of this bill is still a significant step in the federal budget and appropriations process that has not occurred successfully in several years. The mark-up process, where the bill will be further amended by members of the subcommittee, will provide insight into the committee’s funding priorities for education and workforce development programs as the Congressional appropriations process continues.

As we have shared previously, both the House and the Senate have agreed to and passed a budget framework that stays within the bounds of the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) statutorily required budget caps (also known as sequester caps) which limit the overall size the federal budget well into the next decade. Early this morning, the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor-HHS-ED released its draft of the FY 2016 Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill which adheres to these caps and would cut USDE’s budget by $2.8 billion—a figure that is larger than the reduction to USDE’s budget as a result of BCA-mandated sequestration in FY 2013.

At present, it remains unclear what the subcommittee is proposing with regards to the Perkins basic state grant program. The bill as currently written combines funding for adult education and Career Technical Education (CTE) into a single lump sum which is approximately $7 million below FY 2015 levels. What is uncertain is how this $7 million reduction will be distributed between adult education and CTE— something tomorrow’s mark-up process should make clearer.

As a reminder, the Perkins basic state grant program has been funded at $1.117 billion since FY 2014 where the program restored 96 percent of its sequestration cuts from FY 2013. Nevertheless, the state grant program remains $5.4 million below pre-sequester levels. More information on Perkins funding levels can be found here. NASDCTEc and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) have been urging Congress to fund Perkins at pre-sequester levels in FY 2016 and we encourage you to contact your members of Congress to remind them about the importance of Perkins funding. Be sure to voice your support through ACTE’s action center here!

In addition to the above implications for Perkins state grants specifically, the draft bill also proposes to eliminate 19 existing education programs of interest to the CTE community including School Improvement grants, funding for elementary and secondary school counseling, and Investing in Innovation (I3) grants among others. It contains a few USDE-related policy riders too—provisions unrelated to funding— that would prohibit the Department from enforcing its imminent “Gainful Employment” regulations, block USDE from implementing its forthcoming college ratings system later this summer, prevent the Department from using 21st Century Community Learning Centers funds to expand learning time, and would create limitations for how USDE defines “credit hour” for the purposes of federal financial aid as well as changing program integrity rules related to how distance learning programs are authorized by states.

It is important to note that both Democrats and Republicans remain extremely divided over how to fund federal programs in FY 2016 and in particular how to grapple with the self-imposed sequester caps that are anathema to both party’s distinct funding priorities. This partisan disagreement will continue to deepen as the year continues and it remains highly unlikely that lawmakers will reach agreement on the 12 independent funding bills, including Labor-HHS-ED, that are needed to fund the totality of the federal government. While CTE and the Perkins Act remain solid, bipartisan issues, the larger debate around federal appropriations will continue to take center stage as the end of the 2015 fiscal year draws to a close on September 30th.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for additional updates on this process, along with a host other CTE-related information from the past few weeks.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

Simulated Workplace: Changing CTE in West Virginia

June 15th, 2015

Join us for a webinar hosted by NASDCTEc and the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center (ARCC) on Thursday, June 25 from 2-3 p.m. ET to explore how West Virginia’s Simulated Workplace is reinventing Career Technical Education (CTE) by bringing the workplace inside the four walls of a CTE classroom for a student-centered simulated experience. Launched in 2013 as a pilot, the Simulated Workplace is poised for statewide implementation in the 2016-17 school year.

This free webinar will discuss the road to implementation — from concept to pilot to statewide enactment — as well as the results and lessons learned along the way. With its demonstrated success and media attention, the Simulated Workplace framework is being picked up by the state’s academic classrooms and even neighboring states.

Presenters include:

  • Kathy D’Antoni, West Virginia Associate Superintendent, Career and Technical Education
  • Doug Sands, Machine Tool Technology Instructor
  • Jan Hanlon, Secondary Education Director, Logan County Schools, West Virginia
  • Austin Coffey, Student, Industrial Equipment Maintenance Career-Technical Program
  • Gary Clay, Business Leader, West Virginia Manufacturing Association

Register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

June 12th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
I Got a Good Job Right Out of High School Thanks to CTE
Joseph Neyhart entered his freshman year in college with 26 credits under his belt, is studying engineering and has a full year internship at General Motors, which he credits to his high school experience at Toledo Technology Academy.
More

MEDIA OF THE WEEK
Earlier this week National Journal hosted a forum of experts on the Higher Education Act, looking back at the last 50 years, and discussing what needs to happen to move forward.
More

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
New America has developed an interactive map that provides insight into what policies states have adopted in college and career readiness.
More

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Career Cluster Product End of School Year Sale!

June 11th, 2015

Stock up on your Career Cluster products for next year, today! We’re offering up to 75 percent off materials. From posters and brochures to sample plans of study, we offer the only official Career Clusters® products endorsed by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium and the National Career Technical Education Foundation.

The sale ends June 26 and products will sell out, so make your purchase today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

CTE Research Review: Demystifying Work-based Learning

June 10th, 2015

Jobs for the Future’s Pathways to Prosperity Network recently released a toolkit to help demystify work-based learning for employers. In the report, “Not as Hard as You Think: Engaging High School Students in Work-based Learning,” JFF acknowledges that addressing employers’ concerns about liability and labor law issues are critical to scaling up work-based learning (WBL) opportunities.

The brief’s primary goal is to alleviate employers’ concerns about perceived barriers to allowing high school students into the workplace, and also offers three case studies of employers in manufacturing and health care that have successfully launched such experiential opportunities.

First, the report offers the greatest benefits of WBL for employers:

  • Developing a more robust talent pipeline
  • Gaining access to a diverse and innovative workforce
  • Creating opportunities to increase name recognition and positive press
  • Encouraging economic growth that in turn boosts business prospects

To create these opportunities, most employers need “to make only minimal changes, if any, to existing workplace policies and procedures in order to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and policies,” according to the report. The greatest restriction for youth under 18 is the 17 hazardous occupations identified by the U.S. Department of Labor, but just one of these occupations – operating a forklift — is actually in use in most workplaces, the report states. Within the manufacturing industry, most federal restrictions apply only to 14- and 15-year-olds. Other restrictions regarding work hours, minimum wages, permits and required rest or meal periods are typically a matter of state law.

Employers’ insurance policies are a more likely source of barriers to the workplace than state or federal regulations. Yet, the report found that liability issues for paid student interns are often covered under existing workers’ compensation policies. Some employers have been able to work with their insurers to clarify and address WBL restrictions and others take additional steps to limit their liability by having students and families sign liability waivers and working with intermediary organizations.

The report offered three ways to encourage and support employers’ WBL efforts:

  • Incentivize employer engagement through tax credits, subsidies, etc.
  • Embed WBL in curriculum through teacher externships and credit for WBL
  • Support intermediaries that can broker WBL opportunities and be a resource to schools and employers

wbl

Credentials for All

The Southern Regional Education Board’s Commission on Career and Technical Education released its final report earlier this month, and described the bridge from high school to postsecondary and the workforce as broken and in desperate need of fixing.

To repair this bridge, the Commission offers eight actions that states can take to reach the goal of doubling the number of young people completing some form of a college credential by the age of 25. Be sure to check out the full report for all eight action steps.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

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