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NASDCTEc Fall Meeting Blog Series: Certiport – Leading Certification in Validating Student Workforce Skills

Friday, October 11th, 2013

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that is being shared at the NASDCTEc Fall Meeting. Guest bloggers are partner organizations, supporters and other experts that will be present at the national gathering in the Baltimore, MD area October 21-23, 2013. Today’s guest blogger is Aaron Osmond, Vice President, North America Sales of Certiport (a Pearson/Vue Company), and Utah State Senator.

Certiport Helps Millions of Students Earn Industry-Recognized Certification in CTE Programs

Certiport, a Pearson VUE business, is the world leader in performance-based certification exams and practice test solutions for academic institutions, currently delivering nearly 2 million certification exams each year around the world.

Certiport-Pearson-Logo-Final (214x51)

There has never been a better time for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs to implement certification.  The global job market is increasingly competitive, and the U.S. government continues to push schools to improve their CTE programs to prepare students to enter the workforce.  The quality of CTE programs varies greatly across the U.S., but certification can be a universal equalizer.

By arming students with an industry-recognized certification, CTE programs can simultaneously boost student resumes while satisfying state assessment requirements.  In North Carolina, for instance, the Department of Public Instruction entered a statewide licensing agreement with Microsoft and Certiport to give their students, wherever they lived in North Carolina, the opportunity to earn valuable information technology credentials such as the Microsoft Office Specialist or Microsoft Technology Associate.

Now, more than 100,000 students and teachers have earned certifications in North Carolina and Aaron Fleming, Director of CTE for Lee County Public Schools, is proud of what the program has accomplished.  “The Microsoft IT Academy allows students to prove to employers they have a specific skill that is in-demand.  Certification is one way to close the skills gap – it’s one way for employers to find someone to fill exactly what they need in an open position.”

Certiport manages a sophisticated portfolio of leading certification programs including: the official Microsoft Office Specialist certification program, the Microsoft Technology Associate certification program, the Adobe® Certified Associate certification program, the HP Accredited Technical Associate, the CompTIA Strata™ IT Fundamentals, the Autodesk Certified User certification program, the Intuit QuickBooks Certified User certification program and the Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC³®).

To learn more about how Certiport can help your CTE program teach and validate in-demand workforce skills with industry-recognized certification, stop by the Certiport booth at the Fall Meeting or visit www.certiport.com.

The NASDCTEc Fall Meeting will be held October 21-23, 2013 at the BWI Airport Marriott Hotel in Linthicum, MD. More information

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in Meetings and Events, NASDCTEc Fall Meeting
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September CTE Monthly: CTE Credentials Lead to Big Earnings

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

CTE Monthly, a collaborative publication from the Association for Career and Technical Education and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, features the latest news on Career Technical Education (CTE) from across the nation for CTE stakeholders and Members of Congress.

In the September edition, read more about:

View archived CTE Monthly newsletters and other advocacy resources on our Advocacy Tools webpage.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

By Kara in News, Resources
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New Report: CTE Key to Landing Middle-Class Jobs

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Career Technical Education (CTE) prepares students for challenging careers and further education at the high school level and beyond, resulting in attainment of credentials like certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. While CTE spans a range of learner levels, a recent report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce focuses on the subbaccalaureate level, stating that middle-class jobs are abundant for those with subbaccalaureate CTE degrees.

The report reveals that there are currently 29 million “middle jobs,” or jobs requiring a two-year degree or less, in the United States that pay middle-class wages between $35,000 and $75,000 annually. Such jobs include certified nursing assistants, occupational therapists, licensed practical nurses, paralegals, refrigeration technicians, and more. Five options for training – available through CTE schools and programs across the country – are featured as high-quality, cost-effective ways to prepare individuals for middle jobs:

The authors also suggest two ways to advance the nation’s CTE infrastructure. First, a “Learning & Earning Exchange” should be established to connect data from CTE to the labor market. This information system would make clear to students the labor market demand for specific education and training, help educators improve their practice, and help employers find qualified candidates for job openings. Second, the authors support further federal investment in programs of study, and suggest investing in specific programs of study that include employer-based training.

In international comparisons, the U.S. ranks second in baccalaureate attainment; 31 percent of U.S. workers over 25 years old hold a bachelor’s degree or more. However, the subbaccalaureate rate falls at just 10 percent, ranking the U.S. 16th among industrialized nations. Greater federal investments in CTE will help more individuals pursue CTE at the subbaccalaureate level to attain middle-class jobs, and will give decision makers more information linking CTE and labor market outcomes.

Click here to view the report.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

By Kara in News, Research
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State-Level Community College Leaders Voice Concern Over Higher Expectations, Less Funding

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Community colleges are widely recognized for their distinct position within the postsecondary education system; two-year colleges offer accessible options for certificate and degree attainment to a diverse population. As the economy continues to recover, many employers embrace high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) and training opportunities that community colleges provide for a relatively low cost. Meanwhile, community college leaders struggle to meet employers’ rising expectations with stagnant or decreasing community college budgets.

A new report from the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama analyzes survey results from 49 state-level community college leaders, and examines the role of community colleges in developing the workforce.

The authors specify that community colleges are different than many other postsecondary institutions because they are “place-based” – that is, their service delivery areas are determined by law. This causes community colleges to be especially committed to developing their state and local economies, and makes partnerships with business and industry critical. Partnerships with employers are common – 92 percent of those surveyed said that employers are increasingly leaning on community colleges to train their employees –- but one-third of respondents reported that training funds, such as those from the Workforce Investment Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, are decreasing or have been depleted.

Further, over 60 percent of respondents said they are pressured by businesses to offer more short-term job training programs in non-credit areas. Though short-term certificates can be valuable, research shows that longer-term certificates and training programs are more lucrative for students. Moreover, the many job vacancies currently contributing to the “skills gap” would require applicants to have advanced training in highly-skilled areas. The authors note that an investment in these long-term education and training opportunities will be beneficial to both students and employers. They also suggest continued funding of Pell Grants at the current level.

Read the full report here.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in Publications
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Prior Learning Assessments: A Policy Guide for State Leaders

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Labor market projections indicate that most jobs in the future will require a postsecondary certificate or degree, so how can experienced workers without college credentials stay in the game?

Through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), individuals with relevant job experience receive postsecondary credit for the knowledge and skills that they have learned outside of the classroom. Some state leaders have already embraced the strategy and are creating policies to support PLA. Others have shown interest in implementing PLA in their states. A new resource from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), State Policy Approaches to Support Prior Learning Assessment, is aimed at helping state leaders develop state policies in support of PLA.

According to CAEL, students with PLA credits were 2.5 more likely to persist to graduation than students without PLA credits. PLAs also benefit state systems such as higher education, economic development, workforce development, and Career Technical Education (CTE).

CAEL’s comprehensive guide lays out factors that state leaders should consider while customizing their strategy for PLA implementation. Areas of consideration from the guide include:

The guide also includes current strategies used by states to promote PLA, such as establishing PLA policy and assessment processes and methods. Case studies from Washington, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Vermont are also presented, as well as sample state policies and summaries of PLA in participating states.

View the complete guide here.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst 

By Kara in Resources
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Legislative Update: Alternative Certification, Career Academies

Friday, July 27th, 2012

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Alternative Certification

The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing this week to examine alternative certification of teachers. The topic is a timely one given its connection to defining highly qualified teachers under the No Child Left Behind Act. In 2010, Congress passed legislation that allowed students enrolled in alternative certification programs to be considered “highly qualified teachers.” The House Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill seeks to extend this definition for two more years.

There was general support for alternative routes to certification on both sides of the aisle during the hearing. Chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA) had this to say:

Alternative certification routes help address teacher shortages in particular geographic areas and subject matter, as well as strengthen the overall quality of the teaching profession. While Republicans know there is no one-size-fits-all federal solution to help put more effective teachers in the classroom, supporting the availability and acceptance of alternative certification programs is one way the public and private sectors can join together to ensure more students have access to a quality education from an extraordinary educator.

Cynthia Brown, Vice President for Education Policy at the Center for American Progress, agreed that alternative certification programs hold a lot of promise, but that there need to be policies in place to ensure that they are “high quality, innovative, and effective,” which also holds true for traditional teacher preparation programs. She suggested that Congress focus on teacher effectiveness rather than alternative routes to certification.

More Details on Career Academies Proposal

Last week Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke at the National Academy Foundation’s NEXT Conference about the President’s FY13 budget proposal to invest $1 billion in career academies. Funding at this level could increase the number of career academies by 3,000 and serve an additional 500,000 students.

According to Duncan, $200 million in grants to states would be available in FY13, and $400 million would be available in both FY14 and FY15. Grants to would total $4 million each to states, and would be given over a three year period. States would distribute those funds competitively to locals.

As part of the grant program, the Department of Education is proposing a definition of “career academy” that each state must use for the in-state competition:

  1. A career academy is a secondary school program as organized as a small learning com­munity or school within a school to provide the support of a personalized learning environment.
  2. The academy must begin in ninth grade and combine credit-bearing academic and techni­cal curriculum.
  3. The academy must organize curriculum around a career theme like those proposed by NAF — hospitality and tourism, IT, health, sci­ence, and engineering — and be aligned with states’ college- and career-ready standards.
  4. The academy must provide work-based learning and career exploration activities through partnerships with local employers.
  5. The academy must articulate entrance re­quirements of postsecondary education programs to ensure students graduate from high school ready to pursue a higher education degree or credential.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Certificates Account for 22 Percent of All Postsecondary Awards, Report Says

Monday, June 18th, 2012

A new report from Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce finds that, if certificates counted towards college completion metrics, the United States would leap forward in international rankings from 15th to 10th place for total postsecondary completions.

The number of certificates awarded in the United States now makes up 22 percent of all postsecondary awards. Certificate programs, which generally take around one year to complete, offer shorter term, occupation-focused programs. According to Georgetown’s study, certificate-holders spend less time in the classroom but often earn more than those with associate degrees, and, sometimes, even those with four-year degrees.

Further, more than one-third of certificate holders also hold an associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree. Of these individuals, two-thirds earned their certificate first before completing further education.

Experts agree that many jobs in the future will require at least some postsecondary education and training, yet only half students who start college complete a degree. Certificates offer shorter term, occupation-focused programs, most of which take less than a year to complete and can open doors to promotions and new job opportunities for workers.

In 2010, over one million certificates were awarded, up from 300,000 certificates awarded in 1994.

Click here to view the report.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in News, Research, Resources
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Legislative Update: House Committee Passes WIA Reauth Bill

Friday, June 8th, 2012

The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a markup of H.R. 4297, the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 yesterday. The bill represents large scale changes to the current WIA program. The bill was approved by a party line vote of 23 to 15. There is no word on when the bill will go to the floor.

The bill proposes to consolidate approximately 30 existing workforce and training programs into a single, flexible Workforce Investment Fund, and it would give Governors the power to consolidate even more programs under a unified state plan. The bill would also require states and locals to use common performance measures for all workforce development programs.

As we previously reported, an earlier bill introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC), which was merged into H.R. 4297, allowed states to submit a unified state plan encompassing two or more job training and related programs, including both Perkins secondary and postsecondary programs. Under Foxx’s bill, Perkins funds would have been eligible to be consolidated into a Workforce Investment Fund and used for workforce activities. After hearing from the CTE community, new language was added to the Workforce Investment Improvement Act that singles out Perkins as one program whose funds cannot be consolidated into the Workforce Investment Fund.

The Workforce Investment Improvement Act also proposes changes to the Job Corps program to ensure that CTE and job training offered under that program is focused on in-demand occupations and that disadvantaged youth receive a regular high school diploma and/or a postsecondary credential that prepares them for employment.

Democrats on the Committee are not supportive of the bill, and offered a substitute bill as an amendment. Their bill focused on career pathways in high demand industries that lead to industry recognized credentials and postsecondary attainment. It would also expand the role of community colleges in job training. The Democrats’ amendment was voted down along party lines.

A summary of H.R. 4297 can be found here.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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Survey Finds Many U.S. Employers Still Struggle to Fill Job Vacancies

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Employment rates in the United States have been on an upturn yet half of U.S. employers in a recent survey still report having difficulty filling job vacancies. Manpower, an employment agency, released today its annual Talent Shortage Survey, the result of nearly 40,000 interviews with employers across the globe, to provide a comprehensive picture of how the skills gap is affecting business and industry.

The top positions that employers struggle to fill include engineers, technicians, production operators, finance staff, Information Technology staff, and laborers – areas in which Career Technical Education (CTE) provides students with skills and training that align with the needs of business and industry.

Four in 10 employers report that the shortage of qualified job applicants has had a high or medium impact on its stakeholders. Many reported that applicants lack technical skills and would be more qualified if they had industry-specific certifications and qualifications, experience operating mechanical and industrial equipment, and computer and information technology skills.

The most common strategy used by employers to address the shortage is to provide additional training and development for existing staff. Only 10 percent of those surveyed reported partnering with educational institutions to create aligned curriculum.

CTE leaders are working to strengthen alignment and partnerships among secondary, postsecondary, and workforce entities to help students successfully land jobs and meet employers’ expectations. Through rigorous academic and technical coursework and hands-on learning experiences, CTE programs are preparing students to meet critical labor market demands.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in Research, Resources
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Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series: Education Malfunction is a Myth

Wednesday, 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 euy@careertech.org.

By Erin in News
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