Apprenticeships are increasingly gaining attention from policymakers and employers as an effective tool to fight the skills gap and provide workers with higher wages and employment outcomes. Through a recent series of white papers, Center for American Progress (CAP) is adding its voice to those calling for more and better apprenticeships in the United States.
The DC-based think tank recently spotlighted five innovative apprenticeships including programs in Vermont, South Carolina, Washington and Michigan.
In Washington, apprenticeships have proven to be a smart public investment. For every $1 the state invests in apprenticeships, taxpayers receive $23 in benefits, according to one state study.
Although there is clearly more than one way to structure a program that engages multiple employers, CAP offers a few lessons learned from these five successful examples:
- A strong intermediary is key to a strong apprenticeship program;
- A little public investment goes a long way; and
- Industry-recognized credentials add value to apprenticeships in nontraditional occupations.
NACTE final report released
The U.S. Department of Education has released the long-awaited final report of the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education (NACTE).
The report focuses on the new features of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV). Although the NACTE is charged with evaluating the implementation and outcomes of Perkins IV, the actual report stops short of providing insight into the effectiveness of the new law. The evaluation period covered only the early years of Perkins IV and as such can only shed light on the new law’s early implementation. Also much of the outside data used in the report comes from before the new law was passed.
The NACTE spotlighted four major areas:
Programs of study: As a new feature in the 2006 law, the NACTE found that programs of study (POS) have been implemented in widely varying ways both within and across states. Also, states played a larger role in POS development on the secondary level, whereas higher education institutions tended to take the lead when developing postsecondary POS.
Funding: Despite sustaining a total funding loss of 24 percent between fiscal years 2007 and 2014, states continued to become creative with the funding levers available to them. For example, states increasingly began using the reserve option to facilitate further funding to rural areas or those serving large numbers of CTE students. Also, in fiscal year 2010, states divided their Perkins money to secondary and postsecondary grantees by a split of 64 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Of the funds allocated to postsecondary CTE, three-fourths of that money went to community colleges.
Accountability: Though at least three-fourths of states met 90 percent of their performance targets in 2011-12 for secondary and postsecondary CTE, researchers said the flexibility in the Perkins accountability system makes it difficult to draw valid cross-state comparisons. They also raised questions about the validity of some student outcome data.
CTE programs and participation: The NACTE found that nearly all public high school students attended a high school that offered CTE instruction and 85 percent of graduates had completed one or more CTE courses. While the number of high school students taking three or more CTE credits in the same field was much smaller (19 percent), the most common subject areas were business, communications and design and computer and information sciences. At the postsecondary level, more than 8 million students sought a CTE degree or certificate in 2011-12. The most popular fields were health sciences and business.
In addition to mandating the NACTE report, Perkins IV also required an independent advisory panel be formed. The panel prepared its own report with findings and recommendations to Congress. The panel recommended:
- Integrate CTE with broader education reform;
- Develop greater coherence between secondary and postsecondary CTE; and
- Gather robust, actionable information about the implementation and outcomes of CTE.
Calling CTE a part of America’s long-term solution to economic recovery and sustained prominence, the panel said CTE must continue to reposition itself as a pathway into postsecondary programs that links degrees and credentials to occupations.
Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate