Communicating CTE: Utah’s Tools to Sell CTE and Build Local Champions

January 12th, 2021

As the nation heads into a year of difficult fiscal environments and budgetary shortfalls across all levels of government, it is more important than ever that Career Technical Education (CTE) stakeholders are equipped with effective tools to sell CTE to key stakeholders. 

Empowering leaders to tell and understand the benefits of CTE has been Utah State CTE Director Thalea Longhurst’s mission since entering her leadership role in 2014. “In so many instances, I find that it is not that our policymakers don’t want to invest in CTE, it is that they don’t have all the pieces to connect the dots of how the system works, what the jargon means, and what the outcomes are. That has serious consequences for policy, and we wanted to fix that”, said Longhurst. 

One of the first initiatives Longhurst pursued was advocacy training programs for local CTE educators and advocates. The state conducted workshops lead by advocacy experts to help CTE supporters explain and market CTE programs and outcomes to policymakers and administrators. 

Another goal of the Utah CTE Department was to create a ‘one stop shop’ for data-based outcomes about CTE program enrollment, completion, work-based learning and attainment. As a result, each year the state office creates an At-A-Glance fact sheet with colorful graphics and statistics to help advocates and policymakers understand the benefits of CTE in Utah. Two things that make Utah’s fact sheets unique is that individual fact sheets are created for the state and regional level as well as each locality, and the inclusion of definitions for common CTE terms such as concentrator, certification and work-based learning that those outside of the CTE field may not be familiar with to ensure stakeholders can connect the outcomes to the education system as a whole. 

Now on its fourth version, the fact sheets are used by the Governor’s Office, legislators, and employers, and many advocates have come to rely on this resource. “I just had an administrator call me last week asking when the new local fact sheets would be available because they wanted to use them in a school board presentation saying ‘We really need them’, shares Longhurst. “Our resource has a little bit for everyone that is involved in CTE, and it is gratifying to see that data and transparency is valued.” She hopes that as the state’s CTE data system capabilities expand that a dashboard and additional data points will be available to identify more successes and areas for growth. 

Finally, the team identified that CTE recruitment is a priority for educators, but one they often do not have time to plan for. As part of Utah’s participation in Advance CTE’s grant, Strategies for Attracting Students to High-Quality CTE, a Recruitment Guide was created with basic steps to develop a marketing plan, tips for industry engagement and social media campaigns, and ready-made recruitment events that can easily be adapted to meet local audiences. 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As CTE advocates and educators face more challenges than ever to execute high-quality and equitable CTE programs, we hope these tools are helpful templates to building knowledgeable CTE policymakers and champions in your state. 

Communicating CTE is a new series where Advance CTE is exploring how states are leading the way in communicating about the value and benefit of CTE to key stakeholders. Read the first posting in the series here

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

This Week in CTE

January 9th, 2021

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

CTE PROGRAM OF THE WEEK

Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy, a virtual K-12 academy in Michigan, has seen an increase in enrollment for CTE courses. As a result of the pandemic, many students have responded to local labor market needs, and taken an interest in the health science Career Cluster®

One Health Science Instructor at the academy, AJ Krey, mentions, “it’s a program for all students that are interested in anything medicine.” More information can be found in this article published by WBKB-TV 11. 

WEBINAR SERIES OF THE WEEK

The Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education announced their upcoming webinar series on CTE in the middle grades. The first of two webinars will be held on January 27, 2021. Click here for more information and to register. 

CTSO OF THE WEEK

SkillsUSA has opened their application window for the National Technical Honor Society/ SkillsUSA Scholarship. Both organizations strive to uphold the other’s mission by providing learners with scholarship opportunities that contribute to their educational experience.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce and that each learner excels. SkillsUSA provides educational programs, events and competitions that support CTE in the nation’s classrooms.

More information on the scholarship and how to apply can be found here

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 

This week, the Ohio Association of Career-Technical Superintendents shared this video to aid in career exploration and the awareness of Ohio‘s 49 career centers.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

Last week the omnibus bill that was passed by Congress to provide federal funding for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21)- which includes Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed)- was signed into law by the president. Importantly, this included an increase of $52.25 million for the Perkins basic state grant, bringing the total to approximately $1.334 billion. Overall, the bill included an increase of approximately $785 million for education programs and an increase of approximately $122 million for labor programs.

View more Legislative Updates from this week here

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

The State of Career Technical Education: Employer Engagement in CTE examines the ways in which states can foster and sustain meaningful employer engagement to strengthen their CTE systems for all students. States can use this resource to evaluate best practices and strategies for engaging the employer community.

The report drew from a survey of 47 State CTE Directors as well as a dozen interviews to understand how and in what ways employers were engaging with CTE across the country and to illuminate the state’s role in fostering employer engagement.

View The State of Career Technical Education: Employer Engagement in CTE in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

The State of CTE: Advancing Quality Credentials Through Perkins V

January 8th, 2021

In October, Advance CTE released “The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of States’ Perkins V Priorities” which examines how states have leveraged the development of the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans to expand quality and increase equity within their CTE systems. One finding of this report is the emerging state focus on credentials of value.

Perkins V introduces a new secondary program quality indicator as one method available to states to ensure program quality. States can choose from three options — work-based learning, recognized postsecondary credentials (credentials of value), and postsecondary credit attainment (dual enrollment and articulation) — all of which are components of a high-quality CTE program of study, in addition to other critical elements like rigorous standards, quality assessments, and alignment to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand career opportunities. States’ increasing focus on credentials shows up in many aspects of their Perkins V plans, as shown in the chart below. That should come as little surprise. Credentials that are valued in the labor market can serve as an important component of any quality CTE program. They serve as anchors for the exit and re-entry points within CTE programs and career pathways, providing learners with a valuable way to signal their knowledge and skills to prospective employers and other postsecondary educational institutions. 

The commitment to expanding credentials shows up in many aspects of state Perkins V plans, based on Advance CTE’s analysis: 

  • 43 percent of states (22 total) have selected recognized postsecondary credential attainment as at least one of their secondary CTE program quality measures.
  • 41 percent of states are requiring credentials as part of the state’s program approval process.
  • 27 percent of states reference developing or maintaining state-developed lists of approved credentials of value to ensure that credentials are quality and valued by the labor market.

Which Credentials States Promote Matters

Despite their popularity, credentials are not all created equally. As ExcelinEd found in its research, states are in very different places in terms of the ways that they identify, align, prioritize and measure credentials of value earned by students across secondary and postsecondary systems. Consider that prior to Perkins V state plan approval:

  • Many states do not collect data on credentials earned by K-12 and postsecondary students.
    • Just over half of all states (30) submitted K-12 quantitative data on the attainment of credentials for phase 2. 
  • No state is highly aligned in terms of supply for credentials earned by students and the demand for those credentials in the job market. 
    • Only 18% of the credentials earned by K-12 students in this analysis are in-demand by employers or are associated with occupations that pay a base wage of $15 per hour. 

While these findings show that all states can improve their policies related to credentials of value, Perkins V offers states a platform to increase their focus on credentials of value as a critical component of high-quality CTE programs of study that lead to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand careers. 

State Innovations

  • In preparation for its Perkins V plan implementation, Texas developed a set of rigorous programs of study that are aligned to high-wage, high-skill and high-demand occupations. They include vertical alignment to postsecondary programs and, where appropriate, stackable credentials valued by employers. 
  • Pennsylvania’s Perkins V plan builds upon a 2019 amendment that requires all statewide articulation agreements, including those that award credit for industry-recognized credentials, to be reported and accessible to students in an effort to increase transparency of how credentials can help accelerate students along a career pathway
  • Michigan is using the Reserve Fund to establish a competitive grant application process to identify credentials and align them with the course standards for CTE programs of study.

The Work Ahead

It is promising that states have included various references to credentials of value in their Perkins V plans. To help ensure they address core issues of quality and alignment, Credentials Matter offers six high-level recommendations for all states to develop statewide systems and processes that prioritize high-value credentials. 

States should be lauded for making plans to include and improve access to industry credentials as part of comprehensive CTE offerings. Their next step is to execute on the implementation strategies that will ensure these offerings pay dividends to students and families, while maintaining a steadfast commitment to quality and equity. 

Resources

Christina Koch, Policy Associate
Melissa Canney, Innovation Policy Director, ExcelinEd

Legislative Update: CTE Increase in FY21 Appropriations and COVID-19 Stimulus Package

January 7th, 2021

In the final days of 2020, the full Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) appropriations bill and COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief package were signed into law. Read below to learn more about what this means for Career Technical Education (CTE) and education funding. 

Congress Increases CTE Funding for FY21

Last week the omnibus bill that was passed by Congress to provide federal funding for the remainder of FY21- which includes Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed)- was signed into law by the president. Importantly, this included an increase of $52.25 million for the Perkins basic state grant, bringing the total to approximately $1.334 billion. Overall, the bill included an increase of approximately $785 million for education programs and an increase of approximately $122 million for labor programs.  

Stimulus Bill Provides Funding for Education 

In the final days of 2020, Congress passed and the president signed into law a new $900 billion COVID-19 (coronavirus) stimulus package. This bill includes close to $82 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund that was created to prevent, prepare for and respond to the pandemic. The Education Stabilization Fund is broken down into three categories that follow the structure of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed in March 2020. 

  • Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, $54.3 billion
    This funding goes to states through the state education agency (SEA) using the approved application from implementation of the CARES Act. Funding will be allocated to each state per Title I Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). At least 90% of funds will be directed to local education agencies (LEAs) in the proportional amount to what’s received under Title I Part A of ESEA. Activities authorized by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is one of the authorized uses of the ESSER Fund, as well as Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title VII Subtitle B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support and Assistance Act. Additional allowable uses of funds include activities such as: purchasing educational technology; professional development; addressing learning loss and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care. Reporting by the state on use of these funds is required within six months of receipt of funds.U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced on Tuesday that funding has been made available for the ESSER Fund. State allocations can be found here. The Education Stabilization Fund Portal will track how states and districts are spending this money.
  • Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund, $22.7 billion
    This funding will go directly to institutions of higher education for costs associated with coronavirus response and to provide financial aid to students. Funding will be allocated to institutions in the following way: 89% to public and private non-profit institutions through a formula that takes into consideration factors such as Federal Pell Grant recipients; 7.5% for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs); 0.5% for institutions with unmet needs related to the pandemic, as determined through an application process; and 3% for institutions under Section 102(b) of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Uses of these funds include activities such as defraying costs associated with the pandemic, carrying out student supports authorized by HEA to address needs related to the pandemic and financial aid to students. $1.7 billion of the HEER Fund is dedicated to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and MSIs.  
  • Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, $4.1 billion
    Governors are able to use this funding for early childhood education, K-12 education or higher education. $2.5 billion of the GEER Fund is dedicated to Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools. State distribution is split 60% by the population of individuals ages 5 through 24 and 40% by individuals counted under section 1124(c) of ESEA. GEER funding can be used for purposes including: providing emergency support to LEAs selected by the SEA in order to continue providing education services and to support the LEA; providing emergency support grants to institutions of higher education and to provide support to any other institution of higher education, LEA or related entity.

Some additional provisions in the stimulus package include $7 billion for broadband access and $30 million for student aid administration. 

Through this bill Pell Grant eligibility is restored for formerly incarcerated individuals. Advance CTE has been advocating for this policy change, and is pleased to see the removal of the Pell Grant ban.  

The bill’s maintenance of effort provision requires that states keep the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) funding at least at the percentage of the state budget for the average of FY17, FY18 and FY19.  

Advance CTE will continue to monitor implementation and provide updates on future guidance. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Full FY21 Appropriations Bill, COVID-19 Relief Package

December 22nd, 2020

This week, Congress voted on a Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) appropriations bill to provide federal funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, along with a COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief package. Read below to learn about the details of this bill, as well as the Rural Tech Project finalists. 

Congress Passes FY21 Appropriations and COVID-19 Stimulus Bill 

Written by Hannah Neeper, Policy Research Associate, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

With only days remaining in 2020, Congress reached an agreement on a long-awaited additional relief package related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and coupled it with the FY 2021 omnibus appropriations bill to finish the federal appropriations process for the year. The massive bill, providing approximately $900 billion in COVID-19 relief and approximately 1.4 trillion for regular spending across the federal government in FY 2021, passed in the House in two parts by votes of 327-85 and 359-53 and in the Senate by a vote of 92-6 on Monday evening.

The COVID-19 portion of the bill provides a wide range of resources across the federal government, including money for another round of stimulus checks, extended unemployment benefits, additional Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses, COVID-19 testing and other various aspects of relief aid. For education specifically, the Department of Education will receive $82 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund, significantly more than was included in the CARES Act in March but well short of needs expressed by educators around the country. Out of that funding, $54.3 billion is for K-12 (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund) and can be used for a variety of activities, including school facilities repairs and improvements,addressing learning loss among students, and any activities authorized under other federal education legislation, including Perkins. Higher education will receive $22.7 billion, while the flexible Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund will receive an additional $4.1 billion. Many more details on the distribution and use of these funds will be coming in the new year. In addition, we are likely to see additional proposals to address unmet needs as the Biden Administration comes into office. President-elect Biden stated this package “is just the beginning. Our work is far from over.” in response to the agreement. 

Within the appropriations portion of the bill, there was more good news for CTE! The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill included a $52.25 million increase for the Perkins Basic State Grant, bringing the new total to $1.334 billion for CTE. This increase serves as the fourth straight for the Perkins Basic State Grants, which provides a strong indication of the growing support for CTE on Capitol Hill! This funding increase will ensure a strong base of support for CTE through Perkins funding, with COVID-19 relief funds supplementing for more immediate and one-time costs. 

Below are some additional funding levels in the appropriations bill that are important to CTE educators: 

  • Adult Education: $674,955, an increase of $18,000 from FY 20 level
  • Pell Grants: $5,435 for the maximum award, an increase of $150 from FY 20 level
  • Federal Work-Study: $1,190,000, an increase of $10,000 from FY 20 level
  • Career Pathways for Youth Grants: $10 million, level funded from FY 20 level 
  • Strengthening Community College Training Grants (SCCTG): $45 million, an increase of $5 million from FY 20 level
  • Apprenticeship Grant Program: $185 million to support registered apprenticeships, an increase of $85 million from FY 20 level

In addition, there were several changes to federal programs impacting postsecondary education included within the bill. For example, the ban on Pell grants for incarcerated students is eliminated and there are provisions to streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

ED Announces Rural Tech Project Finalists 

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the five finalist teams for the Rural Tech Project- an initiative with the purpose of advancing technology education and supporting rural educators. Each of the finalist teams will receive $100,000 and move on to the second phase of the challenge, which will take place from January through July 2021. During that time each team will create a detailed program plan and build partnerships. The finalist teams include: 

  • iLead Academy (Carrollton, Kentucky);
  • Louisa County Public Schools (Mineral, Virginia);
  • Premont Independent School District (Premont, Texas);
  • Ravenna High School (Ravenna, Michigan); and
  • Woodlake High School (Woodlake, California).

Meredith Hills, Senior Policy Associate for Federal Policy

Reflecting on Advance CTE-Lumina Discussion on Human Work & CTE

December 21st, 2020

Last week, Advance CTE hosted a discussion with Lumina Foundation’s President & CEO, Jamie Merisotis, on his new book, “Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines” and what it means for Career Technical Education (CTE). The conversation between Jamie Merisotis and Kimberly Green, Advance CTE’s Executive Director, was far reaching, covering topics from how we help learners gain empathy to the unlikelihood of a robot, zombie apocalypse.

A couple of key points that really stood out to me were:

  • The need to break down the silos of “education” and “training.” As Merisotis put it: “Neither training devoid of broader learning nor education devoid of preparation for work is going to get people what they need.” The false dichotomy that training prepares people for work and education is a more “pure” endeavor is simply holding us back and making our systems less cohesive and responsive.
  • The importance of building deep and abiding service into our education pathways and workplaces. This goes beyond requiring or offering community service within a CTE program or as a corporate social responsibility effort, but rather making service part of the overall lifelong learning experience. By engaging directly with those being impacted by one’s work, individuals can gain empathy and understand how to better support and serve clients going forward.
  • Everything we build as advocates, policymakers, industry partners or practitioners needs to have a racial equity lens. If we don’t address racial equity head on – as we have failed to do for decades – the inequities and systemic racism will only worsen.
  • No, the robots are not coming to take all of our jobs! Technology always creates more jobs than it destroys and supports a broader “cycle of creative destruction and renewal,” according to Merisotis.  CTE must continue to be nimble and focus on those skills, competencies and functions that are uniquely “human,” including how to work along side technology.

Following the discussion, Advance CTE members broke into small-group discussions to unpack the conversation and reflect on what it meant for them and their CTE programs and policies. One discussion focused on CTE’s role in the future of work and how CTE is well positioned to take on a stronger role in these conversations given our positioning at the nexus between education and industry. CTE should be spearheading these conversations and intentionally engaging with employers to discuss how they can value their human workers differently.

There was also some healthy discussion around how prevalent “human work” will be in the future, given how many examples we still see of human work being devalued in our current workforce and economy and the ever-growing attention to being more efficient and productive and the work regularly being shifted to machines.

Finally, members dug into the challenges related to technology, recognizing we still have a lot to learn about the role of technology in teaching and learning. We need to work through the ongoing fear many have of technology and what it means for work in the future, how much the CTE field still needs to learn about emerging and cutting-edge technologies, and the fact that technology was not in place to support the transition to remote learning during COVID-19. Members also discussed the importance of ensuring equity is attended to in the design of new technologies. For example, we must have measures in place so that the algorithms within artificial intelligence programs are not perpetuating discrimination or inequities.

A special thank you to Jamie Merisotis and his team at the Lumina Foundation for partnering on such a great event for Advance CTE members!

View the recording of the full discussion here.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Getting to Know Advance CTE’s Work in Scaling Work-Based Learning Opportunities

December 17th, 2020

The “Getting to Know” blog series will feature the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each one of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Brian Robinson! Brian is a policy associate for Advance CTE’s state policy team. Brian supports our data and knowledge management work, the Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative (PDI), funded by ECMC Foundation, research and data collection around the nation’s area technical centers and leads communities of practice where we bring together states in the cohort to share best practices and work through data challenges and needs. 

Brian also manages our Learning that Works Resource Center which is a resource repository of all things CTE with over 500 reports, case studies, and more spanning 14 different topic categories.

Q: How would you define work-based learning, and the role it plays in high-quality Career Technical Education?

A: Work-based learning is pretty broad in definition; it is the opportunity for learners to develop awareness and exposure to different careers, explore different career paths, make connections between classroom learning and programs of study, and demonstrate their skills in an authentic real-world setting.

Work-based learning has the power to make the abstract real for learners, providing the opportunity to apply industry skills in the field and learning directly from practitioners. Work-based learning also has the power of building social and cultural capital for learners that we know is important for career advancement. Learners have the opportunity to build professional networks, find mentors, and learn soft skills like how to show up to work on time, how to interact with colleagues and clients, how one dresses for work or an interview, how to develop a resume, etc. All of this matters when we’re thinking about high-quality CTE and equitable career development.

Q: During the pandemic and distance learning, in what innovative ways have states continued to provide work-based learning opportunities for learners? 

A: This has been one of the most challenging aspects of CTE during the pandemic – work-based learning. A lot of businesses were closed, businesses nor schools wanted to take on the liability of having a student working during the pandemic, and of course parents did not want their children being exposed either. Many states turned to virtual experiences for work-based learning opportunities on the lower end of the spectrum because those were easier. Work-based learning coordinators in South Carolina created virtual tour videos for learners in place of “field trips”. Many states and local school districts partnered with for-profit companies to create experiences such as live industry chats with industry professionals. In some limited cases students were able to engage in virtual internships. In Miami-Dade, Florida, they turned their summer youth internship program into a virtual experience. Almost 3,000 learners worked in South Florida this summer in a wide range of industries. However, most programs of study are very difficult to deliver virtually and even when you can, there’s the issue of the digital divide that’s been exacerbated by COVID-19 (coronavirus). 

Q:  What are some ways states can continue to think boldly about scaling their work-based learning opportunities across their CTE programs?

A: Advance CTE is currently rewriting our work-based learning guide with a focus on approaches states can take to ensure equitable access to high-quality work-based learning experiences regardless of race, socioeconomic status, ability, or geography. There are five – that provide the basis for the guide- approaches states can take to boldly scaling work-based learning opportunities:

  1. Establish a clear and ambitious statewide vision for equitable access and create the policy environment and infrastructure to support this vision. 
  2. Create and/or support statewide and local/regional intermediaries who do the on-the-ground work of recruiting learners and employers, helping to facilitate work-based learning experiences, and supporting both learners and employers through the process. 
  3. Use data to advance equity and program quality. It’s not enough to just collect data, but leverage that data to track learner participation and success in high-quality work-based learning opportunities. Use the data to identify opportunity gaps and create a plan to close those gaps. 
  4. Engage with employers to meet the needs of the labor market while expanding opportunities to traditionally underrepresented learner populations and maximizing learning outcomes. 
  5. Lastly, identify successful programs or create pilot programs that can be scaled to create more opportunities for all learners

 

Q: What resources can you share with states on work-based learning?

A: States looking to scale their current work-based learning opportunities can leverage the Work-based Learning tab in the Learning that Works Resource Center where all of our great resources are. Some specific ones are:

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate 

New Congressional Research Report: Labor Market Implications of COVID-19 for Women

December 16th, 2020

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a new report on The COVID-19 Pandemic: Labor Market Implications that explores labor market outcomes in 2020, long-term effects on women in the labor force and possible continuing impacts. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has caused both a health and economic crisis, including devastating unemployment rates. It has become evident that women’s employment has seen greater declines than that of men’s. Women’s employment decreased by 17.8 percent (13.3 million people) between January 2020 and April 2020. Men’s employment decreased by 14.3 percent (12 million people) in that same period. 

These findings are even more extreme for Black and Latinx women. Black women’s employment decreased by 17.1 percent between January and April, compared to a 16 percent decrease for white women. Employment for Latinx women decreased by 22.5 percent between January and April, compared to a 16.2 percent decrease for non-Latinx women.

CRS names two main factors in women’s declining employment: 

  1. Women are more concentrated in the occupations that have been impacted by business restrictions and closures, and 
  2. Women are more likely to reduce employment as a result of caregiving needs, which increased due to school closures, family members falling sick or family members needing assistance during the pandemic.


There is concern that there can be long-term impacts on women in the labor force, dependent on factors such as: length of time that the recession spans; “speed and robustness” of economic recovery; how current employment status will affect future employment; and changes (or not) in choices about caregiving. The disparities in employment may persist past the pandemic, and current unemployment for women can impact their earnings even when they return to the workforce in the future. Time out of the workforce can lead to a skill loss, and make it challenging for women to grow in their careers and access new job opportunities.  

With millions of Americans unemployed, Black and Latinx workers, female workers and workers with a high school education or less have been disproportionately impacted. A significant number of adult learners need fast but quality upskilling and reskilling through avenues such as short-term programs that will result in living-wage, in-demand careers. While there is great uncertainty about the pandemic’s ongoing and long-term impact on employment in our country, there is certainty that CTE is a vital solution to decreasing unemployment and to economic recovery. Read Advance CTE’s transition priorities for the Biden-Harris Administration, including making CTE a central part of the Administration’s economic recovery strategy, here

The full report by CRS can be viewed here.

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: One-Week Stopgap Funding Bill and Stimulus Proposal Details

December 11th, 2020

This week, Congress passed a one-week appropriations bill in an effort to avoid a government shutdown. Read below to learn more about what this means for federal funding, as well as details on a stimulus proposal.

Congress Passes One-Week Stopgap Appropriations Bill

This afternoon the Senate passed a one-week spending bill to extend government funding to December 18, 2020 before it expires at midnight today. This follows the House introduction and vote to pass the continuing resolution H.R. 8900 earlier this week. This bill simply extends funding at currently enacted levels for one more week. It includes the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) appropriations bill, which designates funding for the Perkins Basic State Grant.

Now, the president must sign this bill by midnight tonight, December 11, when federal funding expires. Congress will then take the next week to propose and vote on either a full appropriations package for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021, or another CR. 

Bipartisan Senate Group Releases Additional Stimulus Details

The bipartisan group of Senators who announced a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus framework last week shared out additional information on funding allocations this week. The outline includes $82 billion for education funding, which will be split into a Governors Emergency Relief Fund, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, Higher Education Emergency relief fund (including set asides for minority serving institutions) and relief for territories and the Bureau of Indian Education. Funding levels for each of those streams are still not clear. This proposal also includes $160 billion for state, local and tribal governments to be used “as the basis for good faith negotiations.” At this time, there is no additional information about how these funds can be used. Full legislative text has not been released yet. If this bill were to pass, it would operate retroactively to December 1, 2020 and extend through March 31, 2021.   

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

The Impact of High Quality Short-Term Programs

December 10th, 2020

A high quality short-term program- one that leads to a recognized postsecondary certificate, license or credential and is aligned to local, regional or state labor market demand- is essential to leveling the field for learners of all backgrounds to pursue meaningful and diverse career pathways. The majority of the country’s labor market requires education attainment beyond high school, but not a four-year degree. Short-term programs can be directly responsive to labor market demand and designed to align with employer needs to the learner with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful. Further, these programs support the lifelong learning that is important for today’s evolving world of work, and often contribute to the stackable credentials that coincide with a career pathway. Short-term programs can be part of a full career pathway, putting an individual on track for a career in their area of interest that provides a family-sustaining salary. 

Short-term programs may be for-credit or noncredit, with many categorized as noncredit. A large and rapidly increasing portion of all postsecondary learners enroll in noncredit courses, and this figure is expected to continue to grow. This is because these programs typically lead to a postsecondary credential that often has a more immediate connection to an occupational skill or competency than most associate or baccalaureate degree programs and are frequently offered at a substantially lower cost to learners. Short-term programs can be especially beneficial for adult learners returning to education who are looking for a more affordable program that is designed to be more flexible than the traditional, and longer, degree option. These can better fit into the schedule of a student who is working full-time or is responsible for a family. 

The affordability and flexibility of short-term programs is especially significant since the notion of a “traditional” college student, one who enrolls immediately after high school, is shifting. In fact, over 70 percent of those enrolled in postsecondary education fall into at least one category of a nontraditional learner. 54 percent of short-term programs take place over one year or less, and make up 24 percent of all postsecondary awards in the country. 

Now, during the economic and health crisis, high quality short-term programs will play an important role in economic recovery. With millions of Americans unemployed, Black and Latinx workers, workers with a high school education or less and female workers have been disproportionately impacted. A significant number of learners of all ages now need fast but quality upskilling and reskilling through avenues such as short-term programs that will result in living-wage, in-demand careers. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

 

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