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April “CTE Monthly” Newsletter: Report Assesses Progress toward Postsecondary Credential Attainment; Arts, Audio/Video Technology and Communications Career Spotlight

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

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.

The April issue highlights the Arts, Audio/Video Technology and Communications Career Cluster, an area that is expected to see an increase in jobs over the next decade. A CTE high school in Dallas, Texas, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, is featured in this month’s newsletter.

Also highlighted is a report from the Lumina Foundation, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, that assesses the nation’s progress toward postsecondary degree and credential completion.

Access the April edition of CTE Monthly, and view past newsletters on our advocacy tools Web page.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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CTE in the News: Going to Trade School, Should You Do It?

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Programs such as Career Technical Education (CTE) are one of the few bright spots in the education sector during the nation’s slow recovery period, according to a recent Fox Business News article.

“The high school programs are an opportunity for students to try out lots of different career fields and see what they like and what they don’t like,” said Kimberly Green, NASDCTEc Executive Director. “From the high school perspective, I think it’s really about career exploration, finding your passion and then when you find it, you can begin on your journey for getting the skills you need for starting your career of choice.”

Further, those high school students typically follow a path to postsecondary institutions where they earn certificates and degrees that qualify them for jobs, Green added.

Perhaps, students are identifying the connection between CTE completion, degree or certificate attainment, and job opportunities. CTE and similar programs are experiencing an increase in enrollments at a time graduate schools have seen a decline in student applications, according to the article.

In fact, CTE programs have seen a “sharp increase” in enrollment and many students may be waitlisted, noted Tom Holdsworth, SkillsUSA Associate Executive Director of the Office of Communications & Government Relations.

“There are a lot of careers that just require a certificate or a two-year degree and a lot of those are paying above average wages in areas such as manufacturing, architecture, and construction,” Holdsworth said. “There are opportunities to earn good middle income wage, but you have to have the right set of skills.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that middle-skill jobs will make up approximately 45 percent of all job openings projected through 2014, according to the article. Of the occupations that require postsecondary education, those requiring an associate degree are projected to grow at the fastest rate of about 19 percent, the article said.

Erin Uy, Communications & Marketing Manager

By Erin in News
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Most Manufacturing Executives Report a Shortage of Qualified Workers, Survey Shows

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

A recent national survey from the Manufacturing Institute, an organization focused on improving and expanding manufacturing in the United States, delves deeper into the “skills gap” issue and examines how industry leaders are responding to this challenge.

Of the thousand manufacturing executives who completed the Manufacturing Institute’s survey, nearly 70 percent reported that they have a moderate or severe shortage of available, highly-qualified workers. Over half expect the shortage to worsen within the next five years. Further, over 60 percent of executives stated that shortages and skill deficiencies are having a profound impact on their companies’ ability to expand and improve.

Manufacturing Institute President Emily DeRocco stated that students and their parents have a limited understanding of the jobs that are available in manufacturing today, partly due to the stigma around the low-skilled manufacturing jobs of the last century. However, today’s manufacturing jobs require more complex skills, like high-level technology and computer skills, and are situated in much better work environments.

Many executives reported that available jobs are in areas of “skilled production,” such as machinists, operators, distributors, and technicians. DeRocco suggests that companies partner with educational institutions, such as CTE schools and centers, to further align education and training to meet the needs of business and industry.

Through the Manufacturing Career Cluster, Career Technical Education (CTE) programs provide a response to manufacturers’ demands by educating students through career pathways that lead to industry-recognized credentials. Still, more students are needed to overcome this skills gap by training in advanced manufacturing programs of study (POS) and acquiring the skills needed to pursue positions in manufacturing.

The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte provide an analysis of the survey results in Boiling Point? The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

 

By Kara in News, Publications, Research
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Legislative Update: Appropriations, WIA, Bills Introduced

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Senate Reluctant to Vote on Education Funding Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) announced this week that he plans to bring three appropriations bills to the floor for a vote this month: Agriculture, Transportation-HUD and Commerce-Justice-Science. However, it is unlikely that the Labor-HHS-Education bill will go to the floor because Senate Republicans are opposed to it.

CTE Highlighted at House WIA Hearing

During Tuesday’s hearing, “Modernizing the Workforce Investment Act: Developing an Effective Job Training System for Workers and Employers,” members of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training heard a number of suggestions on how to improve the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

The consensus among witnesses was that the workforce system must be employer driven, flexible and respond to local needs. Witnesses were also concerned about the heavy burden the current system places on providers, as well as the level of federal involvement. “There is a high reporting burden, and in my mind, before you cut any dollar to the customer, you’ve got to cut down the bureaucracy,” said Kristen Cox, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Workforce Services.  

Jaime Fall, Vice President of Workforce and Talent Development Policy at the HR Policy Association, urged Congress to “ensure the skills developed through job training programs meet the needs of employers” by giving priority to “training resulting in employer recognized credentials that document skills.” Fall also voiced HR Policy Association’s support for CTE and Perkins-funded programs, saying:

Our members believe that career and technical education programs funded through the Perkins Act are a critical component of the overall national strategy to develop a skilled workforce. We encourage you to strongly support these programs as you discuss WIA, No Child Left Behind and the Perkins Act.

This is not the first time the HR Policy Association has showed their support for Perkins and CTE on Capitol Hill. This summer they sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging them to restore Perkins Act funding.

Bills Introduced

Ready to Compete Act

Rep. John Yarmuth (KY) has introduced H.R. 3036, the Ready to Compete Act, which would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Workforce Investment Act to award grants to prepare individuals for 21st century careers. The bill would update the Ready to Learn program under ESEA and create a new Ready to Earn program under WIA. These programs would encourage the use of technology and public television to expand the availability of workforce training programs, GED preparation, and adult education initiatives, while providing new resources for classroom instruction and school readiness efforts.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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Low College Completion Rates for Students Pursuing Certificate, Associate, and Bachelor’s Degrees

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Despite increases in college enrollment rates, too few students are making it through certificate, associate and bachelor’s degree programs to attain a credential, according to a report released this week.

Complete College America (CCA), a national non-profit organization working to increase the number of Americans with a college degree or credential, presents new comprehensive state and campus college completion data in Time is the Enemy.

The federal government only requires colleges and universities to report data on first-time, full-time students. However, 40 percent of public college students attend part-time and, therefore, are often overlooked in federal data. Others have been overlooked as well, according to the report:

“Start full-time and then transfer to a different institution? You haven’t been counted. Older students, students trapped in remediation, students pursuing valuable career certificates… all have been virtually invisible to policy makers, elected officials, and taxpayers.”

Unlike most federal data, the report’s data shows rates for part-time and full-time students and those pursuing a certificate, 2-year degree or 4-year degree. CCA analyzed this data with the cooperation of governors from 33 states. Unfortunately, these newly-available statistics are sobering:

In Texas, 79 percent of college-going students enter 2-year public colleges full-time or part-time. Of these students, only 2 percent graduate on time. After 4 years, only 7 percent total will graduate with a degree.

Many other states showed similarly discouraging results. To view your state’s results, click here.

The report states that “students who are poor, older or of color struggle the most to graduate.” Some barriers include remedial coursework and inconvenient scheduling.

Programs that yield high student completion rates are also highlighted, such as Tennessee’s Technology Centers and the City of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs. Strategies for increasing graduation rates, such as block scheduling and on-campus jobs for commuter students, are also described.

View the full report and helpful visuals on the Complete College America website.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in News, Research, Resources
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Sec. Duncan: “Voc. Education Hit Its Heyday in the 60s and 70s”

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Leaders in industry and education convened last week to unravel factors contributing to the current skills gap and to debate possible solutions that would strengthen the workforce. Though many panelists, including heads of Google, Snap-On, and the Manufacturing Institute, and keynote speaker Senator Mark Warner (VA), voiced support for Career Technical Education (CTE), one major participant was less optimistic about the role of CTE.

After sharing her observations of successful vocational programs in countries such as South Korea and Finland, an interviewer asked her guest, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, why America doesn’t talk more about career readiness. Duncan replied that “Vocational education hit its heyday… in the 60s and 70s,” and that the country has backed off of the approach since then.

Duncan said that vocational training needs to prepare students for viable careers in fields like technology and healthcare, and not in outdated fields. When asked why he thinks the “heyday” of vocational education was a half-century ago, the Secretary stated that:

“At that point, we maybe had a clearer sense of what we were preparing students for. And my concern today – there are some amazingly high-performing ‘voc’ and career programs in high schools – but you honestly have too many schools today that are still preparing students for the jobs of 30 or 40 years ago. So for me, it’s – are you getting industry-recognized credentials? Are you getting a certificate? Are you getting a piece of paper? Are you getting the training that’s going to lead you to a good job and to a career coming out of high school? And we want to put a lot more resources behind places that are doing that.”

Click here to view Sec. Duncan’s interview (begins at 16:53).

Today’s CTE programs are vastly different than the vocational education programs offered 50 years ago. NASDCTEc developed a new vision for all CTE programs last year that clearly frames principles and actions to ensure high-quality CTE nationwide. States and CTE programs across the country have taken enormous steps to provide students with multiple options and transferable skills through innovative programs. CTE students can participate in a variety of pathways, each providing real-world opportunities for knowledge and skill attainment.

Still, Duncan continues to point to the same measures – rates for credential and certificate attainment, graduation and placement – as the most convincing evidence of a CTE program’s effectiveness. The lack of outcomes data for CTE programs was part of the Department of Education’s rationale for cutting CTE funding in FY 2011.

If your state or CTE programs can provide positive statistics in the above areas, please share this information with NASDCTEc and your Members of Congress. Providing this data is a critical step towards showing the impact of CTE on your state and saving CTE funding!

Please send examples of CTE success, including state or program data, to Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst at kherbertson@careertech.org.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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ACT Report Presents Workforce Skills Credentialing Framework

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

The shifting economy requires highly-skilled workers in areas of job growth, such as manufacturing, energy, information technology, and health care. But while job vacancies exist, employers continue to report that applicants’ skills do not match those needed to fill the empty positions. ACT, Inc., an education and workplace assessment company, recently released a framework that provides a first step to tackling this mismatch.

ACT’s report proposes the creation of a national credentialing system for workforce skills.

The report suggests reorganizing the credentialing system so that workers’ skills and credentials better align with the needs of industry. This would streamline the current approach by creating a nationally-recognized, stackable credentialing system. ACT suggests that workers begin by earning a “foundational skills credential,” and subsequently layer on more focused, job-specific credentials.

Ideally, implementation of the national workforce skills credentialing system would result in:

Click here to view the full report, Breaking New Ground: Building a National Workforce Skills Credentialing System.

By Kara in News
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Legislative Update: AMERICA Works, 21st Century Careers, Every Student Counts, Financial Literacy, Middle Schools

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Amid all of the budget action over the last few weeks, Congress has also introduced a number of bills that may be of interest.

AMERICA Works Act

Rep. Joe Donnelly (IN) introduced H.R. 1325, the AMERICA Works Act, which would require that certain Federal job training and career education programs give a priority to programs that provide an recognized and nationally portable credential. This bill is similar to the one introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan (NC) last session. The bill would amend Perkins such that state plans would describe how the eligible agency would give priority to programs of study that lead to a skills credential that is in high demand in the area served and listed in the registry described in the AMERICA Works Act.

Providing Innovation to 21st Century Careers Act

Sen. Patty Murray (WA) introduced S. 830, the Providing Innovation to 21st Century Careers Act, to establish partnerships to create or enhance educational and skills development pathways to 21st century careers. The bill would fund $912 million in competitive grants to be used by state and regional partnerships to help students graduate high school and enter postsecondary education or a skilled career. State and regional partnerships would include representatives from secondary, postsecondary, business, labor, workforce, and economic development organizations. These partnerships would develop career pathways for high school students that include counseling, mentoring, work-based experiences, and support to obtain degrees, apprenticeships, and other postsecondary credentials.

Every Student Counts Act

Sen. Tom Harkin (IA) introduced S.767, the Every Student Counts Act . The goal of the bill is to improve the calculation of, reporting of, and accountability for high school graduation rates. The bill would also give credit to schools, districts and states for graduating students in more than four years, as long as they graduate the majority of all students in four years. The bill also provides incentives for schools, districts and states to create programs to serve students who have already dropped out of school, are over-age or under credited. The Every Student Counts Act builds on the National Governors Association’s Graduation Rate Compact that was signed by all 50 of the nation’s governors in 2005. Rep. Bobby Scott (VA) introduced companion bill, H.R. 1419, in the House.

Financial and Economic Literacy Improvement Act

Sen. Patty Murray (WA) introduced S. 787, the Financial and Economic Literacy Improvement Act, which aims to provide grants to promote financial literacy for students and adults. The grants would provide funding to states for resources to teach financial literacy in K-12 schools and 2-and 4-year colleges. The bill also proposes a clearinghouse of resources, tools, and best practices for financial and economic literacy education.

Success in the Middle Act

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) introduced S. 833, the Success in the Middle Act, which would fund grants for states to help school districts improve low-performing middle schools. The grants would be used for early intervention systems for at-risk youth, transition programs between elementary, middle, and high school, professional development, extended learning time, and personal academic plans. While the bill does not specifically mention CTE, there does seem to be a clear connection between the purposes of this bill and the work being done by the CTE community.

By Nancy in Legislation
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Community College Students Thrive under Programs of Study

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Community colleges are lauded for their accessibility. Most two-year institutions have open admissions policies and comparably low tuition rates. However, the challenge lies not in admitting more students to community colleges, but in guiding more students through programs of study to credential completion.

A new paper from the Community College Research Center states that most community college students drop out before attaining a credential. The author, Davis Jenkins, attributes the low completion rates to a lack of clear goals; many students do not enter a college-level program of study and instead complete a less planned series of coursework.

According to Jenkins’ analysis, students who do not commit to a program of study within the first year of enrollment are less likely to earn a credential at all.

The study suggests a method that community colleges can use to track first-time student outcomes over a period of five years. Jenkins encourages community colleges to guide more students through programs of study to increase levels of credential completion.

The full paper, Get with the Program: Accelerating Community College Students’ Entry into and Completion of Programs of Study, can be accessed here.

By Kara in Research
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What Should College Graduates Know and Be Able to Do? New Lumina Report Provides Framework

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

What are the expectations of a student graduating with an associate degree? Or a bachelor’s or master’s degree? Answers to these questions are varied and may indicate a need for more clearly defined expectations for postsecondary degree attainment in the United States. This week, the Lumina Foundation released The Degree Qualifications Profile, a framework illustrating “what students should be expected to know and be able to do once they earn their degrees – at any level.”

The Degree Profile suggests specific learning outcomes that benchmark all associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It also proposes much more extensive use of field-work and experiential learning throughout all degrees, aspects that are often present in career technical education. Through its framework, the Lumina Foundation encourages institutes of higher education to increase all students’ skills and experiences in analysis, adaptation, and application. The report particularly emphasizes its application component, describing the importance of “educational experience rich in field-related projects, performances, investigative essays, demonstrations, and other learning-intensive activities.”

The Degree Profile can improve the quality of learning at many levels and for many stakeholders:

While President Obama’s call to increase the number of college graduates in America has been widely publicized, greater attention must be paid to the quality and the meaning of degrees to be conferred upon a record number of students. To increase the quality of degrees at all levels, the Degree Profile helps colleges and universities to make changes in five basic areas: Broad, Integrative Knowledge; Intellectual skills; Applied Learning; Civic Learning; and Specialized Knowledge. Under each area, Lumina identifies specific learning outcomes for each degree (associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees). With the input of two accrediting agencies (Western Association of Schools and Colleges and The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) and the Council of Independent Colleges, the organization plans to test and make adjustments to the degree profile. For more detailed information, please see the Lumina Foundation website.

By Kara in News, Resources
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