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CTE in the News: Georgia Lt. Gov. Urges Business, Industry, Education Leaders to Address Skills Gap

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Education that prepares students to compete for jobs in the global economy must be a top priority for business, industry and education leaders, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle warned a crowd of nearly 200 at the College and Career Academy Summit this week, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

“Each of us has the chance to shape what this economy and what this future for all of us is going to look like,” Cagle said Thursday. “It’s a huge responsibility… Quite honestly I don’t think there is anything, as a public policy maker, that is more important today than the education system in this state.”

The three-day event featured the theme “Business and Education Partnerships: Success in Action” and was hosted by Floyd County College and Career Academy and Georgia Northwestern Technical College. Leaders were scheduled to address workforce skills gaps in health care, technology, manufacturing and energy amidst a growing regional interest in the career academy movement.

According to Rome News-Tribune, Cagle said that significant economic opportunities have been rising in the U.S. because of events occurring in Asia and Europe, companies such as the manufacturing giant Caterpillar Inc. and Baxter, a pharmaceutical company, are bringing work opportunities to Georgia.

“What is interesting about those industries is that they are all located where there was a college and career academy,” Cagle said. “We’re leading the nation in workforce development because of … what we’re doing with our college and career academies.”

Floyd County Schools College and Career Academy have experienced a “powerful transformation” that has encouraged partnerships between secondary and postsecondary education, and the business community, according to a Floyd County Schools news release. On Friday, discussions were designed to focus on the enhancement and expansion of career academy development.

Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager

By Erin in Uncategorized
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Secretary Duncan Outlines Progress Made and Goals for the Future

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

This afternoon Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke at the National Press Club about the state of American education. Duncan highlighted the Obama Administration’s achievements and challenges over the last four years and offered his take on the obstacles facing public schools in the years ahead.

Chief among the Department’s endeavors are raising standards, improving student performance, reducing dropout rates, and strengthening the teaching profession. But, as we in the CTE community know, education also plays an important role in strengthening the economy and closing the skills gap. Said Duncan: “With more than three million unfilled jobs in this country, [the public] understand[s] that we have a skills gap that will only be closed if America does a better job training and preparing people for work.” The public supports investing in education, but as Duncan pointed out, they worry about where the money will come from.

Duncan laid out the areas where there is still work to be done, including reforming CTE programs in high schools and community colleges, state-driven accountability, recruiting more math and science teachers, and closing the skills gap.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Representatives to Host CTE Congressional Caucus Event, Highlight Harvard Report

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus will present a briefing on the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Pathways to Prosperity Project on Tuesday, July 24. 

Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century, is a report that has resonated across the country, and the authors have now spoken in more than 30 states.  The report addresses the challenges associated with preparing young Americans for successful careers and closing the “skills gap.” William Symonds, the report’s primary author and director of the Pathways to Prosperity Project, will lead the discussion.

Panelists:

When: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Where: Rayburn House Office Building, Gold Room (2168)

Learn more: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news-impact/tag/pathways-to-prosperity/

Erin Uy, Communications & Marketing Manager

By Erin in Meetings and Events, NASDCTEc Announcements
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Friends of CTE Blog: Is there a Skills Gap, and can CTE Fill it?

Thursday, 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 euy@careertech.org.

By Erin in News
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Friends of CTE Blog Series: Competitive Advantage Comes from CTE

Tuesday, 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.

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 euy@careertech.org.

By Erin in News
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Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series: An Investment Worth Making

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2000. Among other responsibilities, Langevin serves as co-chair of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus.

As I travel around Rhode Island to speak with educators, businesses, and others in the community about how to strengthen our economy and create good jobs, one common theme continues to surface: Businesses can’t fill existing vacancies because those looking for work don’t have the skills needed to compete for the jobs of the 21st century. President Obama also raised the issue of the ‘skills gap’ in his recent State of the Union address.

But what exactly are we doing to close it?

Recent reports published by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce and Harvard University’s Pathways to Prosperity Project highlight our failure in the education system to engage all of our students. They also propose solutions to better prepare students, which include a strong emphasis on Career Technical Education (CTE).

To engage and prepare our students, we must strengthen and fully fund our CTE system. I also believe all young Americans should be equipped with college and career readiness skills. I do not believe they are limited to a college OR career choice; rather, our skills gap requires that our students are ready to pursue both postsecondary AND career opportunities.

The Education for Tomorrow’s Jobs Act, which I sponsored with Representative G.T. Thompson, my fellow co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, addresses our nation’s education and workforce challenges by combining rigorous college preparation with workplace experience for high school students. Known as “Linked Learning”, this measure is another tool to ensure that our students are prepared for a wide range of high-growth, high-skilled and high-wage occupations, such as engineering, arts and media, cybersecurity, and health.

In order to strengthen the pipeline for these jobs, we need to unite all of our schools, businesses, universities and other invested partners in a common goal. Under this legislation, teachers and school administrators would collaborate on interdisciplinary education and pursue partnerships with local businesses and community organizations to identify workforce demands and internship opportunities. We should look to businesses like Toyota and IBM that are proactive in training students with needed skills that include problem solving, critical thinking, and teamwork.

The best investment we as a country can make is in our education system. Our students are the problem solvers, the innovators and the job creators of tomorrow. If we engage our students and make the coursework relevant to their future, we reduce dropout rates, increase graduation rates and prepare our students for postsecondary pursuits. Failing to do so hurts our country’s innovative edge and leaves us unable to fill the jobs of the 21st Century.

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.

Langevin’s blog entry is one of two that are being featured this month on the Friends of CTE Blog Series. In celebration of February’s National CTE Month, NASDCTEc is also including a blog entry from the National FFA Organization, a Career Technical Student Organization that “prepares students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources systems.”

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Melinda Findley Lloyd, Communications Consultant, at mlloyd@careertech.org.

By Melinda in Legislation, Public Policy
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President Focuses on Education and Skills Training in State of the Union

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

In his State of the Union address last night President Obama called keeping the middle class alive “the defining issue of our time.” Throughout his speech, he set out proposals to foster an economy “built to last” predicated on education, a skilled workforce, high-paying jobs, energy independence and fairness that would help bolster the middle class.

The President highlighted the skills gap that exists in industries such as manufacturing, information technology and clean energy: “Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job.” In an effort to solve this problem, he called for a national commitment to train two million individuals with the skills they need to land a job, with a focus on partnerships between businesses and community colleges. The President is scheduled to release his FY13 budget on February 13. We hope that his commitment to address the skills gap and provide resources for unemployed individuals will be reflected in his proposal for Perkins Act funding.

President Obama also focused on the current job training system, saying that he wants “to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people…have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help they need.” His hope is that streamlining the system will get people back to work more quickly in the jobs that exist today, and better prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. While he does not mention the Workforce Investment Act specifically, the program has been due for reauthorization since 2003 and has been top priority for the both the House and the Senate this session. Given the President’s mention of the workforce system, we are hopeful that this signals a desire to reauthorize WIA in the coming year.

The President also touched on other education issues such as high school dropouts, calling on states to require students to stay in school until graduation or until they turn 18. In terms of college access and affordability, the President urged Congress to keep student interest rates low and extend the tuition tax credit. He also asked institutions of higher education to keep costs down and was blunt in his commitment to making postsecondary education more affordable, saying, “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.”

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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CTE in the News: The Transformation of American Factory Jobs, In One Company

Friday, January 13th, 2012

The evolution of a fuel-injector assembly line in Greenfield, South Carolina exemplifies the transformation of the manufacturing workforce taking place across the nation, according to a recent NPR story. Making it in America, the second piece in a two-part series, highlights the new and old demands of the manufacturing industry, which has moved from largely hiring low-skilled workers on the assembly line to high-skilled and more-educated workers.

The stories of the success and looming threats among Standard Motor Products employees buttresses the argument for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs that align to the economy and raises the rigor and skill attainment for its students.

The 92-year-old manufacturer has moved from hiring a workforce that was illiterate and did not earn their high school diploma to one that is more educated and has high skills to run sophisticated machinery.

“ ’Now it’s all finesse’ could be the motto of American manufacturing today. In factories around the country, manufacturing is becoming a high-tech, high-precision business. And not everyone has the finesse to run [these complicated machines],” the article said.

Closing the skills gap between those who can and cannot succeed in this new business remains the challenge.

By Erin in News
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Mike Rowe Promotes Skills Training in New Video

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Television star and skills training advocate, Mike Rowe, released a new short video to draw attention to the country’s shortage of qualified workers in some vital fields.

While attaining higher education is a positive goal for some, Rowe said there are options for high school graduates who aren’t college-bound. He stated that this focus on “college for all” exacerbates the skills gap and devalues jobs such as welding and plumbing that are critical and rewarding occupations. There are shortages in these areas, Rowe said, because we don’t encourage students to pursue them.

“We’re so focused on getting into the corner office, we forgot how to build a corner office,” he said.

Career Technical Education (CTE) offers students an opportunity to attain knowledge and skills required to succeed in the workforce or further education. Through career pathways, CTE students take rigorous coursework, often including work-based experiences and dual enrollment courses, and acquire valuable skills to help them succeed after high school whether or not they choose to pursue postsecondary education.

View Mike Rowe’s latest video here.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst 

By Kara in News, Resources
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Leaders Focus on Closing the Skills Gap and Increasing Innovation

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Leaders concerned with America’s growing skills gap met last week in Washington to focus on solutions to this national problem.

The Atlantic, a literary and political magazine, hosted the event to brainstorm how America can regain its competitiveness in the global economy. U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison kicked off the event by stressing the importance of teaching science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields as early as middle school. She also expressed her support for Career Technical Education (CTE) and emphasized the need for technical jobs and training to fulfill the country’s “responsibility to show that some of the best jobs in the world [require] technical degrees.”

A panel featuring higher education, government, and manufacturing experts described their various initiatives aimed at closing this gap.  Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) described current progress as slow, but he also stated that the nation is set to make great strides in the long-term.  From a higher education perspective, Bob Templin, President of Northern Virginia Community College, agreed that a larger number of high school graduates are not ready for postsecondary training. However, he also noted that secondary and postsecondary schools and business and industry are actively teaming together to create solutions.

View the entire event and additional resources here.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in News
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