Posts Tagged ‘Industry Collaboration’

Exploring Area Technical Centers: Elevating ATCs in a National Economic Recovery

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

The transformative workforce changes resulting from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic have made it more urgent than ever for states to have a comprehensive strategy for reskilling and upskilling that unites stakeholders across education, workforce development and economic development. Advance CTE has been vocal that investment in secondary and postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) is critical to a national recovery strategy. 

ATC Positioning in the Workforce Development System 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many things in our way of life, including the education or training path most Americans will pursue to return to work. A typical economic recovery would have millions of Americans flocking to traditional higher education programs but instead, in this post-pandemic economic recovery, the majority of Americans say they will seek non-degree and skill-based education and training programs to reskill or upskill their way back to a good job.

Area technical centers (ATCs) should be part of this solution – helping more Americans secure non-degree credentials of value. Our national analysis found that in the states where ATCs serve an adult population, these institutions provide short-term credentials and programs below the level of an associate’s degree, and  are uniquely positioned to be nimble and responsive to changing workforce needs. Further, these institutions are accessible, by design serving a region, and low-cost, with few or no barriers to admission for adult learners and affordable tuition rates as low as $2.00 per seat hour. ATCs can and should be better leveraged to serve those who have been disproportionately impacted by job losses associated with the pandemic, particularly Black and Latinx workers, workers with a high school education or less, and female workers.  

Leveraging Federal Funding 

Funding matters, and in states that have leveraged federal funds, we see ATCs being key players in meeting the state’s short- and long-term workforce priorities.  

For example, all of Ohio’s Ohio technical colleges (OTCs) and selected programs in Delaware’s ATCs are eligible training providers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Many ATCs are eligible for federal financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, including institutions in Florida, Ohio and Utah most commonly accredited by the Council on Occupational Education.

Some states have utilized 2020 federal stimulus funding to reinforce their ATCs as valuable institutions in an economic recovery. Delaware leveraged $10 million of its federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic relief funding to support its Forward Delaware initiative, a set of rapid training and credentialing programs focused on in-demand occupations and skills in the state. Florida’s governor designated Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) funds provided through the CARES Act to award grants to its ATCs, known as technical colleges, to establish or enhance rapid credentialing programs that lead to a short-term certificate or industry-recognized certification as part of its statewide Get There campaign. 

Utilizing ATCs in Statewide Workforce Training Programs 

ATCs have strong connections to their local communities and employers by design and often offer customized training programs to meet those needs. 

To recover from the devastation of the coronavirus will require persistence, creativity and leveraging all public assets to ensure a full and equitable economic recovery. States should be learning from one another – what worked and what didn’t  – and leveraging their public assets, including ATCs to every learner with the opportunity to access a career pathway that leads to sustained, living-wage employment in an in-demand field. 

To find the ATCs in your state and to access the full report and additional resources, please visit www.areatechnicalcenters.org . To read other posts in this series, please check out our Medium post that breaks down the major findings, and our blog post on leveraging ATCs to advance state postsecondary attainment goals. 

By Stacy Whitehouse in COVID-19 and CTE
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SkillsUSA: How Industry Collaboration Creates Opportunity for the Future of CTE

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

SkillsUSA ConstructionFor students in high-skill career pathways, winning an invitation to the SkillsUSA national competition is one of the biggest honors in their field. Not only does the annual competition give students an opportunity to showcase their talent in different trades but it also demonstrates what the future of Career Technical Education (CTE) can be: a coordinated, cross-sector effort to put learner success first.

This year’s SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky — the 52nd annual competition — featured more than 6,000 competitors, 4,000 teachers and advisers, and 600 national industry leaders from across the United States. In two days of fierce competition, students took to the exposition floor to demonstrate their mastery in a variety of skilled trades: Automated Manufacturing Technology, Culinary Arts, Health Occupations, Mechatronics, Web Design and Welding, to name a few.

What stood out throughout the conference was not only the passion from competitors and their advisers, but also the relationships that students, educators and conference organizers had with industry leaders in each field. Business and industry representatives were highly engaged, contributing generous prize packages for winners in each category, partnering with SkillsUSA National to align competition criteria to industry standards, and providing judges for each competition. Further, many industry leaders could be seen on the exposition floor throughout the week, observing competitions and scoping out future hires.

While students demonstrated their skills on the competition floor, SkillsUSA allowed CTE thought leaders to demonstrate their own wins through SkillsUSA University sessions. In one such session, Dan Belcher of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) laid out a 12-step plan for facilitating cross-sector collaboration, informed by his experience in the construction industry. He suggested that organizations can start by identifying their needs: the specific skills and knowledge they want to teach their students. This will prepare them to discuss and maximize areas of collaboration with industry partners. On the industry side, organizations should evaluate the resources — equipment, mentorship, strategic guidance, etc. — that they are willing to bring to the table. Such cross-sector collaboration will help streamline pathways from education to career and ensure future success for CTE students. Other sessions included discussions on engaging nontraditional students, engaging the community, and adapting to new assessments.

Advance CTE’s updated Vision, Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, describes a future in which CTE programs are held to the highest standards of excellence and all systems work together to support learner success. The SkillsUSA conference provides an encouraging snapshot of what this world will look like, with industry experts and educators alike working together to prepare students for their futures. The task remains to take this successful model and apply it nationwide so that all students can access the opportunity that CTE provides.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Uncategorized
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