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Friends of CTE: First Book

September 8th, 2014

Katie Niersbach, Operations Manager, First Book National Book Bank

Katie First Book

At First Book, we have delivered over 100 million free and low-cost books to youth in need. Through strategic collaboration with Career Technical Education (CTE) programs nationwide, we have been able to deliver more books than ever before and tied the mission of expanding access to resources for kids in low income communities to CTE students’ hands-on education. In the process, we receive a firsthand look at the awesome power of CTE not only to teach students, but also to serve communities in need.

The Distribution Challenge

Traditionally, First Book worked with donated warehouse space. Once a book donation became available, the National Book Bank team would secure a location, warehouse donors would agree to receive and store the product, and the Book Bank team would notify our network of over 130,000 programs nationwide about the expected available inventory.

Once all the books were allocated at the programs’ request, three to five of our staff members would travel to the site  and process the 350,000–500,000 books over the course of a week. As First Book expanded, we continued to look for more efficient ways to provide over eight million books every year to our network, and minimize the uncertainties in the availability of warehouse space, working with sight-unseen inventory and limited access to labor. While we still very frequently work in this framework and rely heavily on our warehousing partners, a more efficient process would allow us to reach even more kids in need.

CTE for GrowthFirst_Book_Twitter_logo_400x400

In 2008, we learned that students in the Transportation, Distribution & Logistics Career Cluster® were focusing on materials handling. Many of these programs have distribution centers, warehousing equipment and a built-in workforce, but traditionally work with simulated inventory – empty boxes that take up space and student effort.

First Book saw the chance to improve students’ educational experience in a new way and access open, staffed locations for our real inventory, while our CTE partners saw an opportunity to make their classrooms come to life. Working together, we created a mutually beneficial relationship that enables CTE students to enrich their learning with real life work experience while First Book expands its capacity to serve more children in need. First Book currently partners with 15 programs in 10 states, providing the physical capacity to hold over 1.8 million books at a time and engaging approximately 630 students.

“When we got that first shipment of books, I told my students, ‘This is the real world now. We’re sitting on $200,000 worth of books that have been entrusted to us to maintain, warehouse, care for, protect and ship on behalf of First Book,’” explains instructor Ashley Kieffer of Effingham Career & College Academy in Rincon, Georgia.

Programs participate in up to 20 shipments yearly and, depending on capacity, move anywhere from a few dozen to several thousand boxes.

“They learn how to process orders for a national organization,” says Vicki Phillips, instructor at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute in Schnecksville, PA. “It’s a win-win for both sides.”

Providing student support

First Book staff provide live demonstrations of how to manipulate and work with data by engaging with students every step of the way, from inventory to processing to shipping. After several successful shipments, CTEP sites are provided a computer loaded with UPS shipping software, and are trained how to process labels, schedule freight pickups and export tracking information. Programs can also customize their interaction with First Book, including processing unboxed and mixed inventory, assembling collections or managing shipments year-round through summer internships.

Our partnerships also engage the community. Each site can select up to five percent of received inventory “off the top” to distribute locally to programs that fit First Book’s criteria of serving children in need.

“It’s very cool,”explains Luke Usher, a student at Effingham Career & College Academy. “We’re giving children books that they can love and enjoy, because they can’t afford them.”

“The day First Book discovered CTE, our distribution model changed forever,” said First Book Chief Operating Officer Chandler Arnold. “Previously, First Book had millions of books but desperately needed warehouse and logistics support, CTE had amazing warehouse and logistics leadership capacity but needed a real-world products. Seven million books later, I can’t think of a more powerful partnership that not only advances First Book’s core mission but also introduces amazing young people across the country to our organization—giving them a tangible way to make a difference as they develop the skills they need to succeed.”

 

Friends of CTE Blog Series: Career Technical Education’s Role in Achieving Talent Sustainability

November 7th, 2013

Jorge Perez is senior vice president of Manpower North America, overseeing ManpowerGroup’s staffing business in the United States and Canada. Perez, recently named one of the 100 most influential leaders in the staffing industry by Staffing Industry Analysts, is an expert in workforce trends and is passionate about equal employment opportunities.

Jorge Perez, senior vice president of Manpower North America

Jorge Perez, senior vice president of Manpower North America

Historically, the world’s focus around sustainability has been on environment and natural resources. But in a time of unprecedented unemployment, combined with critical talent shortages, there is also a great need and opportunity for the world to shift its focus to talent as a critical resource for sustainability. At Manpower, this is at the core of what we do – connecting people to jobs to improve a person’s employability, which also builds communities, countries and the lives of individuals.

Part of talent sustainability is equipping people with the tools, opportunities and training they need to achieve their goals. For many years, we have been telling our young people that the training they need to achieve their goals is only in the form of a four-year degree. Unfortunately, we’ve been doing our young people a disservice with this advice. As a result, many young professionals are graduating from college with astronomical student loan debt and diminished career prospects due to the high unemployment still lingering from the recession.

It’s Time for a Mindset Shift
According to ManpowerGroup’s 2013 Talent Shortage Survey, 39 percent of U.S. employers are having difficulty finding staff with the right skills. In the same survey, employers report that the most difficult jobs to fill are skilled trades positions. Drivers, technicians and mechanics also make the list. There is at least one thing each of these positions has in common – all require technical or vocational training, not a four-year college degree. Knowing the skills that are in demand, why are we guiding the vast majority of students toward a university education?

There needs to be a collective mindset shift in how society views Career Technical Education (CTE). We have to acknowledge that the four-year university experience is not for everyone, and we’ve made the mistake of steering too many kids in that direction in the past. There was a perception that the jobs accessible to students who did not go the four-year college route, like manufacturing jobs, were dirty and dangerous. That’s an outdated idea, and we need to bring honor back to manufacturing and the skilled trades. Parents, teachers, guidance counselors and students themselves need to understand what it’s really like to work in a modern manufacturing environment – it’s clean, it’s high tech, there is upward mobility. It’s very rewarding – personally, professionally and monetarily – for those who choose this path.

Getting back to CTE – it is a critical component of the educational system. We need CTE because it prepares students for both college and career readiness. CTE is focused on preparing students for their career path of choice, with the understanding that most careers require some postsecondary education and training. Right now, this country needs students to be made aware of the demand for careers that call for skilled training as plumbers, welders, carpenters, machinists and the like. Students need to know that these career paths offer employment security at a time when job security is no longer a guarantee. It’s time to reinvent the image of technical training and associated technical careers so we can move toward talent sustainability.

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry to researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Melinda Findley Lloyd, Communications Consultant, at [email protected]

Friends of CTE Blog Series: CMT Goes Back to School

August 7th, 2013

Lucia Folk is the Senior Director of Public Affairs for CMT (Country Music Television), a cable television network distributed in 92 million homes across the country.

Lucia Folk, Senior Director of Public Affairs for CMT (Country Music Television)

Lucia Folk, Senior Director of Public Affairs for CMT (Country Music Television)

I’m lucky enough to have my dream job, which is utilizing CMT’s media platforms—television, radio, digital, etc.—to encourage our viewers to give back in their communities. So when our parent company, Viacom, partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation a few years ago to launch the Get Schooled Foundation with the goal of empowering young people to take charge of their education, I was excited to have a role in helping CMT support that mission.

In 2010, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) redesigned all 12 of its zoned high schools into smaller learning communities, enabling students to learn through the lens of a career or academic theme. CMT immediately saw the connection between this new initiative and our parent company’s ongoing mission, and we were one of the first business partners to step forward and offer our support. The Academies of Nashville* is an innovative approach to school redesign which engages the business community to help drive change in our public schools. We partnered with McGavock High School’s Academy of Digital Design & Communication, and over the past three years this relationship has been transformational, not only for the school, but also for our employees.

In the business world, we’ve heard for years that “our schools are failing and we need your help.” The only ways we knew to help were to throw money at the problem or do occasional volunteering that may impact small numbers of children. The Academies model provides a way for business partners to work alongside those on the frontlines educating our youth—our teachers and our school administrators—to make systemic change in our public schools. Business partners support the Academies by providing knowledge, support and experiential learning opportunities for our students, teachers and administrators.

You in the Career Technical Education (CTE) world have been connecting with businesses for years. In fact, the second principle of the CTE Vision is to actively partner with employers to design and provide high-quality, dynamic programs. You know the power of connecting education and industry. The Academies model is an especially innovative example because it utilizes business engagement at all levels, from working one on one at the grassroots level with individual Academies, all the way up to working alongside administrators in the school district.

At the school level, the Academies encourage and, frankly, require connectivity between what you teach in your CTE classes to the curriculum in the academic subjects. This is achieved through common planning among all disciplines, reinforced by business partnerships relevant to each Academy’s pathways. At the district level, business partners belong to partnership councils, which bring together employers in similar fields to ensure that what is being taught in the Academies directly relates to workforce needs. This partnership and shared accountability at all levels makes the Academies of Nashville unique, especially because this structure has been implemented “wall-to-wall” in all of our zoned high schools, providing every student access to these opportunities.

CMT is starting year four of our partnership and although we still have much work to do, McGavock has made tremendous progress since 2010: They have seen a 10 percent increase in the graduation rate; doubled the number of students who attend from outside of their zone; increased the composite ACT score by 5 percent; and made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) for three years in a row (which they had not achieved for the 10 years prior to 2010/11).  In addition to quantitative results, the real magic of the Academies structure is that it is community-building at its core. McGavock is our school and we share the challenges and successes with our teachers, administrators, fellow business partners, and most importantly, our students.

One of the proudest moments of my professional career was having the honor of standing on stage alongside our McGavock colleagues at this year’s commencement ceremony to congratulate the first graduating class of the CMT Academy of Digital Design & Communication.  That’s what makes this my dream job: I, as well as my colleagues at CMT, have the privilege of partnering with McGavock to help our students find their dream jobs.

*If you want to learn more about the Academies of Nashville, there is a study visit planned for October 2-4, 2013 .  There will also be another study visit offered in the spring of 2014.  You can also learn more about the model on which the Academies are based at the Ford Partnership of Advanced Studies Next Generation Learning.

 

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry to researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Melinda Findley Lloyd, Communications Consultant, at [email protected].

Friends of CTE Blog Series: PG&E Uses Public-Private Partnerships to Address Skilled Candidate Shortage

March 26th, 2013

John R. Simon is Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Pacific Gas and Electric Company, one of the largest combination natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. PG&E has 22,000 employees who serve 15 million people throughout a 70,000-square-mile service area in California.

John R. Simon, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Pacific Gas and Electric Company

John R. Simon, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Our customers rely on us to provide safe, reliable and affordable gas and electricity across Northern and Central California. Our workforce is the key to making that happen. Unfortunately, our company is faced with two converging workforce issues: 1) a significant number of employees will need to be replaced due to retirement or attrition over the next five years, and 2) we have a shortage of skilled candidates for our skilled craft jobs. Without a qualified pipeline of candidates ready to join the ranks of PG&E, it will be extremely difficult for us to do our job.

A Unique Model

PG&E has taken this matter into our own hands by creating PowerPathway a collaborative workforce development model built upon the public-private partnerships between PG&E, California community colleges and universities, community-based training organizations, the public workforce development system, unions and other industry employers. At the heart of this model is the need to support the development of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs that meet the workforce needs of PG&E and the utilities industry.

CTE’s Role

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium’s (NASDCTEc) vision for CTE is partially based on the principal that CTE must actively partner with employers to design and provide high-quality, dynamic programs. With the guidance and partnership of business and industry professionals, CTE can help students understand the realities of the workforce and economy while preparing them to be college and career ready.

In the case of PG&E’s PowerPathway, candidates participate in a 240-hour utilities-industry CTE program. Coursework for the training program includes basic gas and electricity, safety, physical conditioning, math, reading and other employability subjects vital to workplace success. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates receive a certificate of completion from the community college and PG&E’s PowerPathway. These certificates demonstrate that the graduate is a work-ready and competitive candidate for employment within the energy and utilities sector. Note: Some community colleges also offer credit for successful completion of the program.

Successes – The Numbers

PowerPathway started in 2008, graduating about 75 students the first year. Fast forward five years, and we’ll be graduating more than 250 students in 2013. Not only are we scaling our programs, we are consistently placing PowerPathway graduates into industry positions. As of the first quarter of 2012, 71 percent of graduates have been hired into industry positions, a majority with PG&E. The top five jobs in which students have found employment at PG&E are utility worker, apprentice electrician, gas service rep, materials handler and nuclear security guard.

Seventy percent of those hired from the PowerPathway candidate pool progress into apprenticeships or higher job classifications within one year of hire. The rate of retention after six months is also significantly higher for those who have graduated from PowerPathway – 98 percent versus 88 percent for the same skilled craft classifications. In addition, nearly 90 percent of PG&E supervisors who have hired PowerPathway graduates said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their performance.

A Win-Win for All 

By collaborating with CTE and local partners in the community, PG&E has been able to grow a more qualified and career-ready pool of candidates to join our workforce. In addition, building a strong internal brand for PowerPathway programs as a trusted source of quality candidates has been a huge component of sustainability and scalability for our programs. PG&E is a strong proponent of investing in its future workforce, and we’ve found a model that works. You can learn more about PowerPathway at www.pge.com/powerpathway. We encourage all companies to consider leveraging the power of public-private partnerships to advance CTE and strengthen their future pipeline of talent.

 

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Melinda Findley Lloyd, Communications Consultant, at [email protected].

Friends of CTE Blog: CTE, Quality Workforce are Needed for Stronger American Businesses

December 5th, 2012

Roy Schroer is Assistant Vice-President of Human Resources at Union Pacific Railroad, North America’s premier railroad franchise, covering 23 states across the western two-thirds of the United States.

Roy Schroer, Assistant Vice-President of Human Resources, Union Pacific Railroad

Strengthening the Labor Pool

One of America’s most successful and iconic companies, Union Pacific Railroad delivers the goods families and businesses use daily.  Celebrating our 150th anniversary in 2012, we recognize that one of the most vital elements to our success is a quality workforce. The foundation of our workforce has been our ability to recruit top-tier students when they complete their education.

Union Pacific hires college graduates who possess the necessary skill sets to quickly become an asset to the company.  The learning curve is limited for graduates who have the fundamental knowledge needed for their respective positions.  However, we are experiencing a shortage of employees skilled in important trades and crafts taught in Career Technical Education (CTE).

Offer earlier opportunities

High school students – or even younger students – need more opportunities to learn the necessary trade skills to become the next generation of diesel mechanics, industrial engineers and electricians.  Today, students complete high school and face one of two choices: go to college or start looking for a job.  But how do we expect someone with a high school education and no workforce experience to compete in the job market?  It is likely that students with just a high school degree or less will only be able to obtain a low-skilled, and thus low-wage position, to support themselves or their families.

Business and industry recognize that CTE can play a critical role in helping to maintain a pipeline of potential employees for businesses across the nation. CTE options are key to preparing our young students to learn skilled trades, gain valuable work experience and discover what path is most suitable for them.  These education options are beneficial to the future employees, help education systems achieve the goal of producing graduates who will be productive citizens, and will ultimately benefit employers as well.

Win-win solutions      

Companies dedicate significant resources to recruiting, hiring and training new employees, however we experience loss when employees do not enjoy their new job or are not adequately prepared; they leave the position and company.  If students had opportunities to learn about various jobs, trades and crafts during their formal education experience, schools could produce employee candidates who have explored their interests and are better prepared to enter the workforce and succeed. Collaboration between schools and businesses to develop quality CTE programs could address such issues.

For example, Union Pacific Railroad works with local schools through our Direction Recruitment Education and Mentoring (DREAM) program in which employees provide students with career, educational and social guidance.  The mentoring program serves as a vehicle to develop students’ self-esteem and confidence in their personal and career ambitions as they explore the business world.

Providing CTE options to students as early as possible will provide a new stream of job candidates who have a much better understanding of their desired career, which makes for happier, more productive and efficient employees, as well as a deeper and stronger workforce for American businesses.

How can you get involved?

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager at [email protected].

Friends of CTE Blog: The Strength of America: It’s in the American Workforce and Technical Careers

October 17th, 2012

Nicholas T. Pinchuk is chairman and chief executive officer of Snap-on Incorporated, and serves on the Corporation’s board of directors. He was named president and chief operating officer in April 2007. He joined Snap-on in 2002. Mr. Pinchuk has been a strong advocate for career and technical education and has provided leadership in the development of new initiatives to link industry and education.

Nicholas T. Pinchuk is chairman and chief executive officer of Snap-on Incorporated

Ideas and Amplifiers

Harvard professor David Landes in his landmark book Wealth and Poverty of Nations recognizes that the success of our nation is rooted in our workforce. The American workforce – focused on individual aspirations and pursuing collective goals – has been our country’s strength for generations.

But, when we rise any morning and watch TV or read the newspaper, we hear that we are under challenge . . . that we’re in a global competition. Well, the best thing we can do in this conflict is to enable our workforce with Career Technical Education (CTE). This is the way forward . . . there is no more important task in contemporary America.

The American workforce has delivered us from evil, generation after generation. We’ve had brilliant people such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Henry Ford. Ford, like the others, had a groundbreaking idea but his vision would not have been actionable without an assisting amplifier.  And, he chose the greatest commercial amplifier of the day . . . the American workforce . . . committed, focused and energetic. In the process, he created the American auto industry and he got rich for it, as he should have.  But, along the way, he also created the opportunity to build prosperous and fulfilling lives for the millions of Americans who helped make his vision a reality.

The same story is true of Snap-on. We were founded on an innovation and the people from the state of Wisconsin helped take our products around the world and, in the process, built lives of fulfillment and prosperity for themselves and their successors.

Competitive Advantage in the Global Workforce

We know there are urgent challenges to our economy and to our workforce. Thirty percent of America’s manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the past 20 years. So what’s changed since Henry Ford? A lack of innovation . . . I don’t think so.  We can just look around and see that there are still many new ideas, clearly evident in the progress across modern America.

It’s not the American workforce.  Clearly…I can tell you, when I walk the hallways and the factory floors of Elizabethton, Tennessee, or Murphy, North Carolina, or Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I see the same commitment and focus and energy that I suspect Henry Ford saw all those years ago.

What is different is that when I tour those same passages in Shanghai or Delhi, as I do regularly, I also see commitment, focus and energy . . . I see a workforce hungry for advancement and motivated to build their own prosperity.

What has changed is that qualities like commitment and energy are no longer differentiating in the global competition to be the preferred enabling workforce for the ideas of today.

So, we can only win the global economic competition for broad prosperity by creating an advantage…by arming our workforce with capability and technical skills. If we learn anything from American history, it is that society advances through the hands, minds and hearts of its professional workers. In fact, America has consistently moved forward over the years on the brilliance of the few and on the efforts of the many.

Now, Snap-on is – I believe – a great example of what I’m talking about. We make 80 percent of what we sell in the United States right here in America. And, most of what we make has high labor content.  This  can be hard to accomplish successfully in a developed environment like the United States. We’re able to do it because we have a capable and flexible workforce, proximate to the world’s greatest market. This approach, using proximity and capability as an advantage, can be duplicated all across this country.  But, what’s needed is an American workforce armed with the right skills…a workforce enabled by technical education.

Industry and Government both must participate in this effort.  In that regard, I see two major areas of focus:

Industry needs to enable technical institutions.  We must ensure that schools are using the best equipment and facilities.  Industry also needs to help set standards for education so that students learn the specific skills that are necessary, that are actionable in the marketplace, and that can get them the jobs that create prosperity. That’s first.

Second, is that somewhere along the way, America – in my opinion – has lost a bit of its respect for technical occupations.  They are now often viewed as a consolation for not earning a four-year degree. Both Government and Industry need to work in tandem to change this view.  Young people must be encouraged to pursue technical professions.

The Clarion Call

People might recognize the importance of training for a technical career, but how do they react when someone close to them follows such a path?  I’m not sure…probably not so positively.  The truth is that technical education and the associated careers are viewed by many as a consolation prize.  Now, the facts don’t support this view.  But, there’s no denying that there is a gap between perception and reality for technical education.  It’s an optics problem that I believe must be remedied by leaders . . . national leadership from business, government and education.

During the space race, President Kennedy recognized that Americans felt threatened by the Russians with the launch of Sputnik. He appeared on national TV and said: “We are going to put a man on the moon in this decade.” He made it a national priority and young people all over this country viewed entering technical careers as a national calling.

Just like in the space race, we need to make skilled workforce training a national priority. And, we need to make skilled careers a national calling. Technical education must possess that kind of priority focus. That’s one reason why I’m so enthusiastic about student organizations like SkillsUSA. They enable young people with the capabilities they need to win the global competition, and they create an excitement so that these young men and women readily embrace technical learning and avidly pursue those careers with pride.

When some say the American worker is the problem, I say no . . . the American worker is the answer. But, the strength of any workforce is based on technical capabilities. As a nation, we must transform the view of a technical degree from being a consolation to an aspiration. We need to enable workers with both training and respect. Because of that, CTE and SkillsUSA have never been more important to assure a prosperous American future.

How Can You Get Involved?

Now is the time to act.  Form partnerships involving all stakeholders – education, industry and government.  Understand the skills requirements on a local level.  And celebrate technical education and career achievements at every opportunity.

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, to researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager, at [email protected]

Friends of CTE Blog: Is there a Skills Gap, and can CTE Fill it?

July 19th, 2012

Andy Van Kleunen, Executive Director of the National Skills Coalition

Andy Van Kleunen is Executive Director of the National Skills Coalition, which he founded in 1998 as The Workforce Alliance in collaboration with leaders from the workforce development and philanthropic communities. Van Kleunen has led the NSC to become a nationally-recognized voice on behalf of a diverse array of stakeholders, building upon his experience as a community organizer, a policy analyst, and a practitioner-advocate with roots in the workforce field. He oversees all aspects of the NSC’s efforts, including building alliances with new partners as well as advising state and federal policy initiatives.

There has been another surge in press about whether a “skills gap” really exists in today’s lagging economy.   This most recent bump comes courtesy of disappointing May and June job numbers and the coincident release of a new book by University of Pennsylvania economist Peter Capelli which Time Magazine covered in an article entitled, “The Skills Gap Myth.”

Let’s acknowledge up front that this is a worthy debate to have, and that there are valid arguments on both sides.  But if you’re running a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program with a waiting list of students trying to get in and a group of employers at the other end anxious to hire your graduates, this debate about a skills gap may seem a bit surreal.  For you, it’s not a question of whether recovering industries like manufacturing or healthcare are ready to hire; it’s a question of whether our CTE programs have enough capacity to meet that demand. We know there is a skills gap and we know that CTE programs can help fill it.

But skeptical journalists—including those who care enough to read economists like Capelli—have a hard time believing there isn’t something else at play when you have millions of people out of work and 3.5 million jobs going unfilled.  Employers may say they can’t find workers with the right skills, but that seems to fly in the face of the immutable powers of the market, where labor supply and demand automatically match up once there’s been a necessary adjustment in price (i.e., wages) to attract more candidates.  If employers want welders, pay enough and they will come.

Of course, this assumes there are qualified welders (or CNC machinists, or nurses, or ACE-certified auto mechanics, or rad-techs) sitting on the sidelines of the labor market, fully credentialed but not working because they’re waiting for a better offer.  The fact you would be hard pressed to find an unemployed welder isn’t acknowledged by these models; employers are snatching them up as quickly as they can find them.  Nor do they acknowledge that there are many unemployed workers who would be happy to command a welder’s starting wage, but that there aren’t enough funded CTE program slots out there to train all of them.

Capelli would add that, in addition to being stingy, employers are being overly selective.  During my recent appearance on a radio show, the host claimed employers aren’t satisfied unless applicants have the “whole package,” the job market equivalent of baseball’s five-tool player: literacy and numeracy, technical competencies, communications skills, the ability to work in teams, prior experience in the field.

Employers are no doubt being more cautious in their hiring right now, for a variety of reasons (some better than others).  But it’s hard to ignore that some industries have changed substantially over the past decade, requiring candidates with broader skills than may have been expected for the same position 10 years ago.  So is this an argument against further investments in workforce skills?  Instead, shouldn’t we be thinking about expanding opportunities for people to enroll in the kind of industry-informed, applied education and training that our best CTE programs are providing for their students in the classroom, through internships and even through on-the-job training?  Such programs aren’t cheap, but we know they can be effective.  Just ask the employers who hire from them.

So bring on the debate about the skills gap.  But let’s make sure we include the experiences of the CTE community and their partners in the discussion.

How Can You Get Involved?

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, to researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager, at [email protected]

Friends of CTE Blog Series: Competitive Advantage Comes from CTE

July 10th, 2012

John McGlade is the Chairman, President and CEO of the global gases and chemicals company, Air Products. Previously, he was named the CEO Champion of the Year by SkillsUSA for his leadership in supporting America’s highly-skilled workforce and promoting Career Technical Education. John also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Chemistry Council and the Executive Committee of the Council on Competitiveness.

Growing up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, I spent a good amount of my formative high school years at my local Career Technical Education (CTE) – then called vocational education — school. Now, as president and CEO of a global company, I can testify first hand to how CTE can help equip students with the skills and knowledge to succeed in their careers. Moreover, CTE has since evolved, proving to be as dynamic and innovative as the economy for which it is preparing students.

In fact, I believe that CTE can be a source of competitive advantage for the United States, by rebuilding a skilled workforce better trained than ever to compete in the global marketplace.

Demand and supply gap

We know that more scientists and engineers are needed to support the United States economy, but a broader look must be given to the overall demand for skilled workers.

Air Products employs about 7,500 people in the United States.

  • Over 50 percent of those people are skilled workers, including plant operators, drivers, mechanics and maintenance techs.
  • We hire approximately 550 new employees in the United States each year and around 90 percent require technical skills.

There is a mismatch between the demand and supply of skilled workers. Work opportunities exist, but sometimes it is difficult to find people to fill those jobs.  Air Products has openings, but we can’t always find people with the right skills in the right locations.  This situation contributes to the national unemployment rate of over 8 percent.

Creating a new technology workforce

Filling the skills gap will require higher expectations and greater investment in education and job training. Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. We need technicians that are not just mechanically trained, but who can operate electronic control systems and sophisticated, predictive maintenance technologies.

That means government must provide more support for CTE, directing additional funding so that schools, community colleges and technical schools can continue their great work and strengthen and expand quality CTE programs.

Our nation’s future

I cannot stress enough the importance of CTE to the U.S. economy. Not only do CTE programs help the new generation of workers with developing technical skills, they create well-rounded employees with 21st century employability skills — problem-solving, teamwork and leadership — to help them grow and succeed throughout the lifetime of their entire career.

Industries are eager to collaborate with schools and colleges that help foster the workforce of our next generation. We realize that we must develop strategic partnerships between industry and education to bring the best thinking and most current learning experiences to schools and colleges. In doing so, we can create future career opportunities for millions of Americans.

How Can You Get Involved?

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, to researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager, at [email protected]

Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series: Education Malfunction is a Myth

May 16th, 2012

Todd Thibodeaux is CompTIA president and CEO.

Is today’s education system failing our children?

Not necessarily. The problem may be that too many people are limiting the boundaries of what makes up our education system.

Think about it. A lot of folks with a stake in the matter are doing just that and results indicate the traditional college route isn’t cutting it when it comes to career opportunities for young people.

More states, school districts, government leaders and students themselves are demanding improved preparation in career readiness in the form of industry certifications and Career Technical Education (CTE) programs.

In our particular quadrant of the professional world, the technical industry, there’s a greater demand today for young people entering the professional world to gain real-world training not always available through traditional academic avenues.  Add to that the expense of a post-secondary education and one can certainly understand the growing acceptance and encouragement of CTE programs as a viable substitute for an academic
 degree.

 


A student who graduates with a high school degree and an industry certification has the opportunity to garner a well-paying position while pursuing an education to continue up the ladder on a career path.

In the past decade, language within the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act focused on the inclusion of industry certifications as a measure of what must be attained to enter many industries and careers has increased dramatically.

Just as CompTIA certifications come in the form of high-stakes exams, government programs must quantify success or lack thereof to determine individual student achievements and program viability. More and more employers not only are recommending, but requiring attainment of those credentials.

Studies have shown that student graduates of CTE programs have a higher grade-point-average and a higher rate of graduation than their peers in high school.

In a form of unprecedented joint commitment from U.S. government agencies this April, the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor promoted the use of career pathways as a “promising strategy” to help adults earn marketable skills and industry-recognized credentials toward employment. Career pathways such as CTE are to be a chief focus of integrated federal and state funding streams to advance higher levels of future education and better aligned training and employment.

Lest we forget Harvard University’s Pathways to Prosperity Project which balanced its illustration of an education system that has failed to engage students with a solution that has a strong emphasis on CTE?

All in all, actions within our academic, government and technical communities continue to align in favor of CTE programs as a valued method of preparing students to step foot in the workplace and succeed.

Today’s education system is not a failure. The boundaries of that traditional system just need to be expanded.

How Can You Get Involved?

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, to researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager, at [email protected]

Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series: Toyota President, CEO Supports CTE as Resource for Employment Opportunities

April 11th, 2012

Jim Lentz is  President & CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA.

What’s your edge?  What’s going to separate you from others?  Plain and simple, one of the best ways to stand out is to get great hands-on training and education — everything that Career Technical Education provides.

In this fast-paced world where immediate results are demanded, Toyota needs team members who know their stuff.   Today’s cars contain more than 3,000 parts and are basically computers on wheels.  In fact, some cars have as many as 100 million lines of software code.  You can fill a stack of letter-sized pages the height of a 50-story building with that many codes.

In addition, automobiles have nearly 1,000 times more computing power than the system that guided Apollo astronauts to the moon.  It’s true. Further, even more advanced technologies and electronics are being added to vehicles.  And, since cars are becoming more complex, we’re going to need good people that have the knowledge and the know-how to keep things in tip-top condition.

This is all great news because as the auto industry continues to grow, more and more jobs will be available.  In fact, over the next four years, the industry plans to add 150,000 new jobs.  That’s on top of the 8 million Americans who depend on the auto industry for their livelihoods.

So, having the education and technical experience is critical in the auto business, or almost any field you choose.  At Toyota, we feel so strongly about this that we’ve directly supported college automotive programs through our Technician Training and Education Network (T-TEN) for a quarter century.  We’ve also joined with other automakers to support high school-level programs for more than a decade through Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES).

CTE programs also offer another important opportunity for you to fulfill your dreams. They help you determine how strong your passion is for a given subject. Yes, it’s important to have knowledge and training, but it’s equally important to love what you do.  It makes a difference in your outlook, your attitude and your results.  Generally, passionate, enthusiastic people are more successful in work and life.

That’s why companies today are seeking associates who have three key ingredients:  Knowledge, training and passion.  You’ll find individuals who posses these traits at CTE.  So, if you’re not involved in a CTE program–get involved and do it now!  Good luck and all the best in the future!

How Can You Get Involved?

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, to researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager, at [email protected]

 

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