Posts Tagged ‘workforce’

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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Exploring Area Technical Centers: Best Practices for Aligning ATCs to Advance Postsecondary Attainment Goals

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Advance CTE’s recent report on area technical centers (ATCs), Building Better Futures for Learners: A 50-State Analysis of Area Technical Centers, revealed that ATCs have a notable footprint in credential and non-degree programs for postsecondary learners and an active role in contributing to state postsecondary attainment goals. However, the extent of their impact varies across states and territories and is strongly influenced by policymaker awareness and systems alignment.  

At the time of our report, forty-five states had set a goal to increase postsecondary attainment. This trend is largely inspired by the work of Lumina Foundation, a national leader in advancing access and outcomes in postsecondary education that set a national goal of equipping at least 60 percent of the working age population with a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. Expanding access to and providing seamless transitions for learners in their journey to postsecondary attainment is critical to an equitable national economic recovery. 

This post will focus on highlighting several states that offer best practices to elevate the role of ATCs in postsecondary attainment through state oversight, the role of ATCS in statewide postsecondary attainment plans, and statewide systems alignment.

For a broader breakdown of topline messages from this report and implications for states, please read our most recent post on Medium

State Oversight 

One of the report’s key policy recommendations is for states to improve the awareness, accountability, and alignment of ATCs through the restoration or enhancement of state oversight of these institutions. 

Utah and Oklahoma provide strong examples of the benefits of robust state oversight and positioning of ATCs. Utah’s area technical centers, known as technical colleges, were recently elevated and designated as eight of the state’s 16 postsecondary institutions under the Utah System of Higher Education. This positioning was a solution to years of legislative changes that had created two systems of higher education, leading to legal and learner navigation difficulties that limited the potential of ATCs. This new position for ATCs enhances learner equity by providing well-aligned pathways from ATCs to four-year postsecondary institutions and uniform credit transfer policies. 

Oklahoma has a separate state agency, known as CareerTech, that oversees all aspects of their CTE delivery system, including 29 ATCs known as technology centers. In addition to serving as the fiscal agent for the state’s robust allotment of CTE funding, the agency also provides oversight of program quality. CareerTech partners with other state agencies to ensure that the needs of underserved populations, including the Indian Education Board and Tribal Reintegration Program and the Department of Veteran Affairs are met. 

The Role of ATCs in State Postsecondary Attainment Plans

While most states reported that ATCs were not specifically mentioned in postsecondary attainment plans, the vast majority strongly agreed or agreed that their ATCs were active contributors to postsecondary attainment goals. 

Delaware’s ATCs have a significant role in supporting the state’s postsecondary attainment goal through the administration of the state Registered Apprenticeship program. This program constitutes almost 70 percent of the state’s vocational/technical school district postsecondary and adult population and allows ATCs to be strongly connected and responsive to state workforce needs despite predominantly local oversight. 

Florida’s ATCs, known as technical colleges, are strongly tied to the state’s attainment goals. Because Florida’s ATCs are accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, they must maintain a 60 percent learner completion rate and 70 percent licensure exam pass rate, effectively exceeding the state’s postsecondary attainment goal. Technical colleges are the focal point of a statewide Get There campaign that combines program grants colleges with a public relations campaign to promote postsecondary attainment through a short-term credential of value. 

High-quality and timely state-level data collection is key to accurate measurement and evaluation of the impact of ATCs on postsecondary attainment. In Oklahoma, the state’s technology centers contributed over 19,000 industry-recognized credentials with an 88 percent adult learner program completion rate in FY2018. Florida reported over 9,000 earned industry certifications and over 14,400 full program completers through its technical colleges for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

Statewide Systems Alignment

While 27 states reported providing some level of programming at ATCs to postsecondary learners, their responses also indicated that ATCs are often disconnected from the larger postsecondary system. A few states stand out as exemplars in intentional alignment between ATCs and higher education systems. 

Ohio includes its ATCs, known as Ohio technical centers (OTCs), in a statewide articulation and transfer agreement established in 2007 known as Career-Technical Credit Transfer. When combined with Career-Technical Assurance Guides that advise learners through the transfer process, these tools give learners and their credits seamless and equitable pathways from OTCs to other postsecondary institutions. Numerous OTCs have also partnered with regional community colleges to design coursework sequences that span both institutions for improved program quality and alignment. 

Florida’s technical colleges are required to achieve seamless articulation and transfer agreements under state law. Technical and state colleges must create regional career pathway articulation agreements that align a technical college program with a degree program at a state college. Clock hours must also be transferable to the aligned state college degree program. 

Effective alignment practices also extend to the relationship between ATCs and workforce development systems. In Delaware, ATCs are members of a statewide CTE alliance that includes representatives from vocational/technical school districts, the technical and community college system, and other state agencies and workforce partners. Collaborative efforts from this alliance expanded the state’s Registered Apprenticeship programs to include pre-apprenticeship and secondary learners, and more career pathways that span multiple institutions. 

We hope these examples provide valuable insight on potential reforms for states to leverage and elevate ATCs. Visit our microsite to access full state profiles for the five states mentioned in this post. A future post will explore the potential use of ATC in economic recovery plans and highlight innovative partnerships in states. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Advance CTE Resources, Publications
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New Survey Highlights a Persistent Skills Gap; What Can States Do to Strengthen the Talent Pool?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

As the economy continues to change with digitalization and automation, the needs of the labor market will continue to change too. In 2019 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation commissioned a study surveying 500 human resource (HR) professionals with hiring decision authority in their organizations. An overwhelming 74 percent of respondents said that a “skills gap” persists in the current U.S. labor and hiring economy. 

These employers cite three major challenges they face when hiring: candidates lacking the appropriate or necessary skills, candidates lacking previous relevant work experience and not having enough applicants. According to these HR professionals, addressing the skills gap and truly transforming the talent marketplace would require:

1)      Greater upskilling initiatives within companies for existing employees.

2)      More educational/Career Technical Education (CTE) programs to build talent pipelines.

3)      Improving alignment between skills and competencies taught in educational/CTE programs and in-demand skills and competencies needed in the workforce.

A study by JFF further highlights the skills gap and the challenges to solving the problem. The report, Making College Work for Students and the Economy, follows JFF’s comprehensive policy agenda for addressing states’ skilled workforce and talent development needs.  The report examines a representative sample of 15 states to determine their progress toward adopting 15 policy recommendations. Of the recommendations made in their initial report, states have made the most progress on the following:

1)      Establishing expectations that community college programs align to labor market demand.

2)      Developing longitudinal data systems that provide the ability to track over time the educational and employment outcomes of students.

3)      Addressing barriers to college readiness.

Conversely, JFF finds that states have the most work to do in the following areas:

1)      Providing community colleges with sufficient resources and appropriate incentives.

2)      Addressing the holistic needs of students to strengthen their financial stability.

3)      Digging into labor market outcomes of students and postsecondary programs.

Both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the JFF studies highlight a need for state governments, the education sector and the labor sector to work collaboratively and do more to prepare the 21st century workforce to meet the needs of an ever-changing labor market. 

With implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) underway, states are poised to make transformational changes to improve the quality of CTE programs and ensure equitable access and success. Opportunities like the comprehensive local needs assessment and the Perkins V reserve fund give state leaders leverage to ensure programs are meeting the needs of learners and employers.

Research Roundup

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

By Brian Robinson in Research
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NASDCTEc Fall Meeting Blog Series: Teachers, Employers, Students and the System: What needs to change?

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Earlier this week at NASDCTEc’s annual Fall Meeting, Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Gallup Education, delivered a strong call to action to the CTE community. Highlighting Gallup’s research on the education system the economy in America today, Busteed urged attendees to leverage this data to reframe CTE in national and local conversations about education and careers.

Gallup conducted a national poll of students and found that students become significantly less engaged each year they are in school. More than 75 percent of elementary school students identify as engaged, while only 44 percent of high school students report feeling engaged at some point during the school day.

Busteed noted that there are reasons for student disengagement. Student success is measured through graduation rates, SAT scores, and G.P.A., which rarely – if ever – takes into account the student as a whole person. While these measures are certainly important, hope, mentorship and the opportunity to work on long-term projects are stronger indicators of success.

“What are we doing to identify entrepreneurship in our schools right now?” said Busteed. “We identify athletic talent with ease, we identify IQ; we don’t work to identify the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. There are no indicators the education system uses to determine who will be an effective or successful entrepreneur.”

To that end, Busteed cited a recent interview with Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, who called grades and test scores worthless predictors of successful employees.

Just as internships are valuable experiences for students, teacher externships can be incredible opportunities that may be key in helping connect classroom curriculum to the modern workplace. Given the typical capacity issues for work-based learning, 3 million teacher externships would be the equivalent of more than 50 million student internships.

Businesses also value a stronger partnership with higher education. Currently, only 13 percent of business leaders think there is “a great deal” of collaboration between higher education and employers, while almost 90 percent favor an increased level of collaboration.

What implications does this research have for CTE? High-quality CTE programs provide all the opportunities Busteed called essential to student success: a focus on employability skills and technical skills, mentorship through work-based learning and curriculum that is made relevant by tying learning to the real world.

Busteed left the group with a final charge – the CTE community needs to better communicate career technical education not as option B, but instead as a staple of all students’ educational experience.
To view Busteed’s PowerPoint, please visit our 2014 Fall Meeting page.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

By Andrea Zimmermann in Advance CTE Fall Meeting, Meetings and Events, Research, Resources
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Why Is Workplace Safety Training Important?

Friday, September 19th, 2014

According to the CDC, there were approximately 18.1 million young people entering the workforce under the age of 24 in 2013—but this does not mean that these young workers are necessarily prepared and able to handle risks and hazards that can occur in a work environment.[i] Not being knowledgeable of hazards related to a specific job or knowing how to assess and correct a problem can lead to devastating injuries or even death for a worker.

Safety training can make workers more conscious of hazards and risks such as falls, vehicle accidents, overexertion injuries, and workplace violence. Unfortunately, workplace safety has the potential to be unintentionally overlooked which can leave workers and others on the job site unprotected. Every nine minutes, a U.S. teen is injured on the job.[ii] By preparing students for their first entry-level jobs and future career opportunities with safety and health training, young workers will be more capable protecting themselves and others.

The Department of LabCareerSafe Logo Orange Blueor reports that nearly 600,000 workers miss work each year because of muscoskeletal disorders related to work injuries alone; the collective cost to employers, insurance companies, and the government is estimated at $50 billion each year.[iii]

Workplace injuries not only affect the company, but can also lead to devastating consequences for a worker. Being injured while at work can lead to lost wages, large medical bills that may not be completely covered by workers’ compensation, and even disabilities that result in long-term unemployment. In addition to learning how to identify safety and health hazards, workplace safety training, especially OSHA training, provides workers with information regarding their rights in the workplace. First and foremost, workers are entitled to working conditions that are safe and do not pose a risk of serious harm or injury.

Successful occupational health and safety programs require the collaborating efforts and participation of employers and employees. Understanding and implementing safety and health standards related to the work environment is not only the responsibility of an employer but also an employee’s. Promoting health and safety as well as implementing training in the classroom can lead to young workers actively identifying, accessing, and correcting hazards in the classroom and at work. Incorporating a health and safety training program or OSHA safety training in the classroom is a way to lower risks to young workers and begin to prepare future business leaders and workers on practicing safe methods in the workplace. Online OSHA training, like the courses offered by CareerSafe Online, is an easy and affordable way to implement workplace safety training in any career and technical education (CTE) classroom. Because 80% or more of young workers are still in high school when they begin their first job, it gives educators an opportunity to prepare their students for employment as well as apprenticeships and internships related to their studies.[iv]

The more education and training workers receive, the more likely it is that there will be a reduction in injuries and the repercussions of those injuries. Young workers who have received OSHA safety training and possess an industry recognized credential are enhancing their resumes, becoming more employable, and may receive pay increase from employers. Employers want to hire individuals who not only understand the work involved in a position, but are also aware of the risks associated with daily tasks.

Students are our future. Let’s make safety a priority and enroll them in safety training today.

[i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014) Young Worker Safety and Health.

[ii] Department of Labor, YouthRules. (2012) Are You a Teen Worker?

[iii] Jeffress, Charles N. (2000) BEACON Biodynamics and Ergonomics Symposium. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor.

[iv] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013) Health and Safety of Young Workers.

 

This blog post was written by CareerSafe Online, a participant and gold level sponsor at the 2014 NASDCTEc Fall Meeting

By Evan Williamson in Advance CTE Fall Meeting
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Council of State Governments’ National Conference

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend The Council of State Governments’ (CSG)  annual national conference as a member of the National Task Force on Workforce Development and Education, which is part of their “State Pathways to Prosperity initiative.”  With members representing all three branches of state government, CSG brought a broad set of perspectives together to discuss the key challenges and opportunities in developing a strong education and workforce pipeline.  The final Task Force framework and recommendations will be further developed and released in the coming months.

In addition to the Task Force meeting, I also had the opportunity to attend a policy academy where I learned about an array of  impressive state- and business-led efforts to support students’ career readiness and U.S. competitiveness. One such example is the MC2 STEM High School, developed through a partnership between the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and GE Lighting.  Students attend school on the GE campus during their sophomore year, where they engage in a year-long project that culminates in a presentation to GE leaders, and then spend their junior and senior years at Cleveland State University. All students complete at least one internship, have a GE “buddy” and must demonstrate 90 percent “proficiency” to earn credits. Since the school opened in 2008, nearly 100 percent of MC2 STEM students have graduated, and 84 percent of the graduates have matriculated into college.

Another fascinating model shared was the Automotive Manufacturers Technical Education Collaborative (AMTEC), or the National Center for Excellence in Advanced Automotive Manufacturing. AMTEC is an effort supported by the major automotive manufacturers – Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, etc. – to develop a set of common expectations to anchor training programs for multi-skilled employees. AMTEC provides industry-developed and verified curriculum and assessments to its member community colleges, companies and high schools, as well as professional development and other resources.

Alaska 1And did I mention the meeting was in Anchorage, Alaska as a bonus? As evidence, here’s a picture of me…and a picture of a moose. 

Alaska 2

 
Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

 

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Meetings and Events, Uncategorized
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15 States Eligible for WIA Incentive Grants

Friday, June 7th, 2013

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the U.S. Department of Education have jointly announced that the following states are eligible to apply for incentive grant awards as authorized through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA):

States were selected based on their performance-related goals in: employment after training and related services, retention in employment, and improved literacy levels.

Eligible states may apply for a share of the $10 million available to be used through June 30, 2015. The funds will support workforce and education activities as authorized under Title IB and Title II of WIA or under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. To qualify, states must have exceeded performance levels for WIA (Title IB and Title II) for the 2011 program year.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

By Kara in News
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Register Now for NASDCTEc Webinar on Career Academies: An Investment in Students, the Workforce and the Economy

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Career Academies: An Investment in Students, the Workforce and the Economy

Career academies are a proven way of delivering high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE). Through small learning communities, college-preparatory curriculum, and strong partnerships with local employers, career academies offer work-based learning opportunities and rigorous pathways to postsecondary education and careers. Research strongly supports the efficacy of career academies in increasing the academic success, attendance levels and future earning potential of participating students.

Join us for a webinar that features state and local leaders who will discuss why career academies are a successful delivery mechanism for CTE, and what they are doing in this exciting field.

The webinar will be held on Thursday, May 9th at 3 p.m. ET. Speakers include:

Rod Duckworth, Chancellor, Division of Career and Adult Education, Florida Department of Education.
Sabrina Arney, Teacher, Aspirations in Medical Sciences Academy, Long Beach, California.

David Beckett, Advocacy Manager, NASDCTEc

Register NOW

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in Webinars
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Spring Meeting Recap: Federal Career Pathways Initiatives

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Earlier this week, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) held its annual Spring Meeting where during one  session, participants heard updates on three national programs that are aiming to better coordinate and strengthen career pathways systems across states. Importantly, all of the presenters expressed an appreciation for each other’s efforts and noted that there was a lot of coordination across the projects.

Mary Clagett of Jobs for the Future discussed Advancing Career and Technical Education (CTE) in State and Local Career Pathways Systems, which is a federally-funded program working with a cohort of states to support, coordinate, and develop non-duplicative education and training programs that will help build skills among low skilled adults. The focus of the initial research and ongoing technical assistance in states is on identifying the most impactful programmatic and policy solutions to building and maintaining a strong career pathway system.

Similarly, the Alliance for Quality Career Pathways, coordinated by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), is focused on supporting pathways for adults and disconnected youths. As described by Vickie Choitz of CLASP, the primary focus of the Alliance is developing a framework of quality criteria and indicators and a shared set of performance metrics to help align CTE programs of study, high school to college transitions, and adult career pathway across state. The framework will be customizable for states and include a self-assessment tool to ensure the framework is best meeting states’ needs. Ten states are currently participating in the Alliance.

Finally, participants learned more about CORD’s professional development and curriculum support for Adult Career Pathways. Hope Cotner of CORD talked about efforts of states, districts and institutions of higher education to design instruction to support career pathways and learning for students of all ages. You can download her presentation here.

During the discussion and Q&A period, participants again raised the issue of ensuring the federal government, national initiatives, states, and localities in using common definitions and language when using some common phrases as “career pathways” and “programs of study.”

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

 

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Advance CTE Spring Meeting
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Register Now for Upcoming NASDCTEc Webinar Featuring Area CTE Centers: Conquering the Skills Gap through Business-Industry Collaboration

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Area CTE Centers operate in a variety of ways – from shared-time centers offering primarily technical training to full-time centers that provide students with both academic instruction and technical training – but all provide opportunities for students to receive relevant, rigorous CTE. And at a time when employers say that they are unable to find workers who have the right skills to fill job vacancies, area CTE centers provide a crucial link between the knowledge and skills that students learn and those demanded by local businesses.

Join us for a webinar that features state and local leaders who will discuss area CTE centers in their states and how they are making connections to the needs of business and industry and their communities.

The webinar will be held on Thursday, April 25th at 3 p.m. ET. Speakers include:

Steve Gratz, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Career-Technical Education, Ohio Department of Education
Harold Niehaus
Director of Instructional Development, Miami Valley Career Technology Center
Paula Bowles
Chief Communications and Marketing Officer, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education
Bill Kramer
Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Canadian Valley Technology Center, El Reno, OK

Link to register

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in Webinars
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