Legislative Update: Lawmakers Return to Capitol Hill as Cardona Lays Out Vision for U.S. Department of Education

January 27th, 2023

Over the last two weeks, lawmakers have continued to make important decisions regarding their respective chambers. Elsewhere, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivered a major speech outlining his plans for the department in the coming year, while a slate of Presidential Scholars has been released. 

118th Congress Continues to Take Shape

Earlier this week, both the House and the Senate reconvened after recessing for the recent Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Lawmakers in the House continued to make important decisions related to committee assignments this week, which will have lasting impacts on Career Technical Education (CTE) funding and policymaking for at least the next two years. Of particular note, House Republicans announced that Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) will lead the House Appropriations’ Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-ED) Subcommittee—the entity that determines the budgets for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL), including related programs. In addition, Republicans have named new members to this committee, as have Democrats recently, but both parties have yet to assign members to specific subcommittees, including Labor-HHS-ED. 

Elsewhere, House Republican Leadership announced that the newly renamed House Education and Workforce Committee will be smaller in size than previous Congresses. Led by Chair Virginia Foxx (R-VA), leadership announced assignments to this committee, which has oversight over CTE policymaking. The full roster of Education and Workforce Republicans will include a mix of new and familiar faces in the new Congress. House Democrats have yet to provide a list of members who will be on the committee this year, although leadership recently confirmed that Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) will serve as Ranking Member. 

In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released Democratic committee roster assignments, including for the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) and Appropriations Committees– the entities with responsibility for CTE policymaking and funding oversight respectively. Of note, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will chair the HELP committee, replacing longtime Chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) who will be leading the Appropriations Committee in the new Congress. In addition, Sen. Markey (D-MA) will be joining the HELP Committee this Congress, filling a vacancy left by Sen. Rosen (D-NV) who has been assigned elsewhere. Republicans have yet to announce similar committee assignments.  A needed “organizing resolution” is the next step in this process within the upper chamber, but Senators have not yet moved forward with this procedural requirement which is part of this delay. 

 As Congress works to organize, Advance CTE will continue to monitor these developments and engage with policymakers as the new 118th Congress continues to take shape. 

Secretary Cardona Lays out ED Priorities and Visits CTE Center

In a major speech on Tuesday, January 24, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona outlined his vision for the U.S. Department of Education for the coming year. The speech entitled, “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” highlighted several priority areas for the Department this year including efforts to boost academic excellence, improve learning conditions, and create more pathways to opportunities for learners.

Significantly, the speech highlighted the importance of CTE saying, in part, “We must challenge our myopic view that emphasizing the importance of career pathways is about limiting students, or the view that it’s four-year-college or bust. Advancing career pathways in high schools is about more options for students, not less. What it does is prepare them for the careers of today with options, and in some cases, their employer will pay for their future education. If we do this well, our graduates will be able to compete on a global stage. It’s my intention to Raise the Bar so we can lead the world in advanced career and technical education.” The full remarks can be found here

Following this speech further into the week, Secretary Cardona made a visit to Francis Tuttle Technology Center– an area technical center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma which has been featured in Congress previously– to tour the facility and highlight the importance of increasing access to CTE pathways programs. More on this visit can be found here.  

ED Announces 2023 Presidential Scholars Slate of Candidates

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education announced 5,000 learners who were named candidates to become U.S. Presidential Scholars—an initiative that annually recognizes 161 high school seniors for academic, technical and artistic achievements. As a reminder, in 2015 this program was expanded to include recognition of high-achieving CTE learners. A panel of educators and experts will review these candidate nominations and, using a variety of criteria including transcripts, test scores and portfolios of work, narrow down the list to approximately 600 semifinalists later this spring. Ultimately, the commission will select the final 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars for the upcoming 59th cohort in the program’s history, expected to be announced this upcoming May. More information on the program can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Getting to Know the 2022- 2024 Advance CTE – ECMCF Fellows Part 5

January 25th, 2023

In September, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the second cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. The Advance CTE — ECMCF Fellows include representation across multiple demographic categories reflecting the Fellowship’s goal of intentionally building a postsecondary leadership pipeline for underserved populations in Career Technical Education (CTE)  that closes racial representation gaps and removes equity barriers to postsecondary leadership advancement. 

This is the final blog in this series which has introduced each Fellow participating in the second cohort of emerging leaders from 14 states, including 12 professionals of color.

Caleb Perriton – Wyoming

Caleb Perriton’s career began in the automotive industry as an international trainer prior to entering the world of postsecondary CTE. Currently, he serves as Program Director of the Trades & Technical Studies Pathway at Laramie County Community College. He is an ASE Certified Master Automotive Technician and earned a bachelor’s degree in automotive technology from Weber State University and master’s degree in business administration from the University of Wyoming.  

 

Luv’Tesha Robertson – Kentucky

Dr. Luv’Tesha Robertson is passionate about creating seamless transitions among secondary, postsecondary and workforce programs to foster learner success, particularly for learners of color.  She has over 15 years of experience in program quality, accountability, and learner transfer and retention initiatives at postsecondary institutions and the state level. Currently, Dr. Robertson serves as Deputy Executive Director of the Office of Adult Education at the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet. She earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in financial management, conflict resolution and leadership from Sullivan University and earned a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Eastern Kentucky University.

 

Daniel Sandoval – Colorado

Daniel Sandoval is passionate about cultivating self-reliance among learners and students from marginalized populations and has focused on serving immigrant, economically disadvantaged, racially underrepresented and linguistically diverse communities. His range of experience includes grant writing and administration, managing apprenticeship and credential attainment initiatives, and serving in leadership roles in postsecondary student services. Currently, Sandoval serves as the Director of Customized Training and Apprenticeships at Pickens Technical College and as a Psychology instructor at the Community College of Aurora. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English writing from Colorado Mesa University and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of Colorado at Denver. 

Welcome Milo McMinn as the New State CTE Director in New Mexico!

January 24th, 2023

The New Mexico Public Education Department recently named Milo McMinn as its new Director of College and Career Readiness.

Milo path to finding his career passion began with experiences that we hope for all Career Technical Education (CTE) learners —- career exploration, robust high school CTE classes and work-based learning that led to a decades-long passion for education and providing more opportunities for students.

With an initial interest in law enforcement in high school, Milo did a police chief ride-along in 10th grade “and immediately realized that Law Enforcement was not for me”, he explained. In high school, he took family and consumer science classes and then had the opportunity to intern in a kindergarten classroom, where he discovered his passion for teaching. After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction through New Mexico State University, he returned to his hometown of Grants, New Mexico to teach American History and coach high school football and tennis.

An offer to serve as a district data analysis coordinator for the Central Consolidated School
district in Shiprock exposed him to the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the
21st Century Act (Perkins V) funding and career pathways. That role led him to take on further leadership roles as founding principal and creator of Bond Wilson Technical Center, an Early College Academy CTE Center that worked to provide dual credit access for students with Navajo Technical University and local industry partners. Milo is passionate about building and expanding career pathways, industry relationships and programs of study across the state. Milo is particularly proud of his work in creating programs and experiences for districts in the state that have large native populations and hopes to expand program offerings and funding streams to impact rural indigenous communities.

Through Milo’s new role as the State CTE Director, he hopes to expand and support CTE instructors and local leaders to help them leverage CTE to “do cool stuff for kids and create opportunities for engaging and relevant curricula.” His experience as a local administrator will be leveraged to remove barriers for more local education agencies (LEAs) and native institutions to apply for Perkins V funding. Central to achieving both of these priorities is building more meaningful and trusting stakeholder engagement outside of the state plan process.

Finally, Milo strives for the ‘Land of Enchantment’ to lead the way on workforce and education and workforce innovation through CTE. One potential avenue is through his local and now state management of the Innovation Zone Grant, which funds professional development, guidance and technical assistance, and grant dollars to “re-imagine the high school experience” to include expanded work-based learning, project-based learning and CTE.

Outside of his role as State Director, Milo loves to play tennis with friends and family and be outdoors in New Mexico’s beautiful forests where he loves to camp and hunt each fall. Milo has two sons, an eighth grader, a fourth grader and two twin girls on the way expected in May. He jokes that he is very invested in NM public education “as in four years he will have a senior in high school, a middle schooler, and two little girls in Pre-K.”

Please join us in welcoming Milo to his new role, and to Advance CTE!

Stacy Whitehouse, Communications Manager

State CTE Policy Update: Building Diverse Educator Pipelines in CTE

January 23rd, 2023

Teacher preparation programs are an important aspect of building an educator pipeline. While recruiting and certifying CTE teachers may vary slightly depending on the state, one fact is true among all school districts and education platforms: learners, regardless of their own backgrounds, benefit from diversity among their teachers. With CTE’s pivotal role in providing real-world connections to career pathways, a diverse staff of educators elevates learners’ exposure to different approaches and links to future careers. As state directors dedicated to creating CTE Without Limits, ensuring the recruitment, retention and support of a diverse and culturally competent workforce is critical to ensuring each learner feels welcome and secure in their CTE ecosystem. The following are some ways to build a strategy that will help to diversify your CTE workforce.

Make Teaching Affordable

Teaching is not a high-wage job. In fact, there are some states who are losing the ability to use Perkins funding to subsidize their teacher training programs due to the historic low wage of teachers. CTE instructors, most of whom are often career changers coming from industries with higher pay are often hesitant for this very reason. While potential ways to improve teacher compensation have been addressed in this blog, there are other ways to mitigate some of the financial burdens teachers face. Student loan forgiveness and scholarship programs are attractive solutions that can be made through policy. Additionally, stipends and scholarships for teacher preparation programs can reduce some of the financial burdens on potential teachers and attract talent that may otherwise be hesitant to join.

Diversify the Applicant Pool

One of the best ways to attract diverse talent is to create “grow your own” teacher programs. This allows states to ensure they are hiring talent that reflects their learner population and makes targeted recruiting a more manageable task. Including people of color in the hiring and recruiting (and marketing) process can also help draw a more diverse pool of CTE instructor talent. Additionally, it is necessary to ensure that districts and those with hiring power are trained in racial bias mitigation and are intentional in their recruitment. Teacher preparation programs should also look to be intentionally inclusive of students from diverse backgrounds.

Build Inclusive School Environments

Creating state standards for leadership focused on creating inclusive school environments is a significant step state CTE directors can take to improve the cultures of their CTE programs. Principals and teachers can have mandatory in-service training that provides them with the strategies needed to create and sustain inclusive work environments and diverse recruitment, hiring and retainment strategies. Instructor and administrative preparation programs can also build those strategies into their curriculums.

If you would like to learn more about this subject:

Advance CTE is currently recruiting educators of color for a focus group on diversifying the CTE field. If you are interested, please sign up here.

Brice Thomas, Policy Associate

Getting to Know the 2022- 2024 Advance CTE – ECMCF Fellows Part 4

January 18th, 2023

In September, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the second cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. The Advance CTE — ECMCF Fellows include representation across multiple demographic categories reflecting the Fellowship’s goal of intentionally building a postsecondary leadership pipeline for underserved populations in Career Technical Education (CTE)  that closes racial representation gaps and removes equity barriers to postsecondary leadership advancement.

Over the next several weeks, this blog series will introduce each Fellow participating in the second cohort of emerging leaders from 14 states, including 12 professionals of color.

Dr. Angela Lawhorne – Virginia

Dr. Angela Lawhorne has more than 15 years of experience supporting career development grants for two-year institutions and serving in regional and state leadership roles for workforce programs. Her passion for workforce development began during her service in the United States Air Force, where she supported diet therapy training programs. Currently, she serves as Director of Career Education Programs & Workforce Partnerships at the Virginia Community College System Office, adjunct Assistant Professor with Old Dominion University and Chair of the Southampton County Public Schools CTE Advisory Committee. Dr. Lawhorne holds an executive master’s degree in Business Administration from Texas A&M University and a doctorate in Community College Leadership from Old Dominion University.

Nancy Ligus – West Virginia

Nancy Ligus leverages her unique experience as a former small business owner, industry manager, and workforce educator to design curricula for industry development and work-based learning. Currently, she serves as Director of Workforce, Continuing Education and Economic Development for Pierpont Community & Technical College in West Virginia. She earned both a Human Resource Management Certificate and an associate degree in business marketing from Community College of Allegheny and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Seton Hill University.

Leisa Mathews – Wyoming

Leisa Mathews’ career began her career in the industry sector in human resources and workforce training roles for the oil and gas industry, including designing an international competency-based training curriculum. Her path eventually led to postsecondary administration and workforce development, where she currently serves as the Workforce Development Coordinator and Perkins Coordinator for Western Wyoming Community College.

Legislative Update: 118th Congress Begins to Take Shape

January 13th, 2023

Last weekend, the House formally elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy to be the next Speaker of the House. Earlier this week lawmakers reconvened to adopt a new rules package which determines how the Chamber will operate over the course of the 118th Congress. Elsewhere new leadership for committees overseeing education and workforce development policy have been announced. 

McCarthy Elected Speaker of the House

Early Saturday morning Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was formally elected Speaker of the House after a tumultuous week which saw 14 failed vote attempts to elect a new leader for the chamber. Throughout last week, a small group of House Republicans withheld their support for McCarthy’s speakership bid leading to the week-long impasse. After providing a series of concessions to this group of lawmakers, some of which still have not yet been made public, McCarthy was able to garner most of this group’s support while others voted present, reducing the threshold he needed to win the Speaker’s gavel. Some of these concessions could impact Career and Technical Education (CTE) funding for the coming year, including a promise McCarthy gave to these members to only advance appropriations legislation later this year at or below federal fiscal year 2022 (FY22) funding levels. With a narrow four-seat majority in the House, and with all Democratic lawmakers voting for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), this combination of handshake agreements and concessions provided the support McCarthy needed to secure the Speakership—a critically important leadership position that he has sought since 2015. 

House Adopts New Rules Package

With Speaker McCarthy formally elected, the House recessed until this past Monday where they reconvened and passed a new rules package. These rules outline how the House will operate throughout the 118th Congress, including how legislation will be developed and amended. The package also includes a number of concessions the newly elected Speaker made that are intended to empower rank and file lawmakers at the expense of the Speaker’s office. These concessions include a so-called “motion to vacate” rule, which would allow a single lawmaker to call a vote of no confidence in Speaker McCarthy during this Congress among a slew of other similar rules changes. Additionally, there are new rules that could impact how funding is or is not provided to programs that have authorization periods that have expired. Other new rules in the package would narrow the scope that bills may have to a single subject, making it more difficult to move larger pieces of legislation in the coming year. Advance CTE is continuing to analyze these new rules and their potential impact on CTE funding and policymaking in the new Congress.  

Foxx Selected to Lead Education and Workforce Committee

Following Speaker McCarthy’s election and the adoption of the rules package for the House, the Republican Steering Committee met this week to determine leadership posts for committees. Earlier in the week, the Steering Committee announced that it had selected Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) to become Chair of the newly rebranded Education and Workforce Committee—the entity responsible for education and workforce development policymaking in the House. Chair Foxx won this position over Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) who also sought this role. In order to regain the Chair position, Foxx required a waiver from the Steering Committee due to existing Republican Caucus rules that bar committee leaders from serving in leadership posts for three consecutive terms. 

“Conducting vigorous and sustained oversight of the federal government, especially the Departments of Education and Labor, will be among my top priorities,” she said after the announcement of her selection to lead the committee. In addition to oversight of the Biden Administration, Chair Foxx has shared elsewhere that she plans to push for an overhaul of federal student aid programs, similar to what she and other Republicans on the committee proposed last summer, among a number of other priorities. On the Democratic side of the aisle Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), the former chair of the committee, is expected to take on the Ranking Member role to lead Democrats on the committee in minority in the new Congress. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

 

5 Tips to Create Year-Long Impact Through CTE Month

January 12th, 2023

February 1 marks the start of Career Technical Education (CTE) Month, a national celebration of the impact of CTE on learners, families, educators, our workforce and our communities.  It is a critical opportunity to conduct communications and outreach to introduce CTE to audiences who may not be aware of it or may have historical stigmas about its value. In doing so, you can cultivate more diverse interest in your programs and cultivate new CTE champions. 

We asked states what they already have planned, and these were some of their responses. 

Here are five tips to help you push the limits and maximize your CTE Month Activities to create impact not just in February but all year long: 

Tip 1: Use Your Activities to Tell A Story

Your CTE Month activities should be designed to advance your top legislative, strategic plan and programmatic goals. Consider who is invited to your events, who is featured as speakers and what materials should be shared. Combine your top quantitative outcomes with impactful stories from CTE stakeholders to proactively address stigmas or opposition to your goals and reach audiences needed to advance these goals. 

Tip 2: Choose Impact over Quantity

We know staff capacity is limited. Therefore, it is important that work invested in your CTE Month events and activities are not done just only of tradition, but also because they are impactful in advancing goals and reaching your target audience. 

Here are some questions to ask: What audiences do you need to reach during CTE Month? Do your current activities equitably reach those audiences? Do your activities reach new audiences? 

Tip 3: Be Intentional About Who You Spotlight 

Equity and access should be embedded in all CTE Month activities. Consider whether the visual representation, wording used, languages and formats allow your intended audiences to fully know about and participate in the activities. 

Additionally, consider whether all audiences are represented in your events, and if there are specific voices you need to add to your table. Perhaps you have an event for all employers, but are there employers with internship or placement programs supporting special populations that you should target to connect to current work? would it be more impactful to engage specifically with employers with existing programs to support learners transitioning out of foster care or learners with disabilities? 

Tip 4: Activate your CTE Champions

You don’t have to do all CTE Month activities yourself! Consider how your existing champions across policymakers, educators, employers, etc. can hold their own events, leverage existing events to highlight CTE, and/or make introductions to bring new CTE champions to the table. This is particularly important to closing representation gaps in your programs or garnering support for legislative or policy initiatives. 

Tip 5: Make CTE Month Year Round!

Make sure your events aren’t a one-time impact! If some of these tips are causing you to reevaluate your current activities, consider if there are adjustments or new events that can be held throughout the remainder of 2023 to make CTE a larger story that builds toward advancing your goals and initiatives. 

Use Advance CTE’s communication and advocacy resources to reach families, employers and policymakers: 

Stacy Whitehouse, Communications Manager 

 

Advance CTE’s National Summit Celebrates Progress Enhancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality

January 9th, 2023

Last month, Advance CTE hosted the National Summit on Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality & Use (Summit). The convening was the capstone of a two-year initiative, supported by ECMC Foundation, to support leaders in five states in cultivating postsecondary data ecosystems that assist institutions in offering career pathways that meet learner interests and are aligned to good careers. This post shares some of the main takeaways and themes from the Summit.

Individuals from twenty states and territories, as well as national partner organizations, attended the Summit to hear lessons learned from the Advancing Postsecondary C Data Quality & Use Initiative (PDI), explore promising practices to improve the quality and use of postsecondary CTE data and discuss strategies to sustain the work into the future.

The agenda of the Summit followed the unique approaches the PDI grantees took to improve postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) data quality and use, from aligning non-credit courses to credit, improving data visualizations and creating new data elements to capture work-based learning or learners’ needs. 

The Summit also celebrated high-quality data system achievements outside of the PDI cohort. The first plenary featured a panel of Anna Fontus, Program Officer, ECMC Foundation; Su Jin Jez, Executive Director, California Competes; and Paige Kowalski, Executive Vice President, Data Quality Campaign. The panelists spoke on effective strategies to build support for  California’s P20 Cradle-to-Career Data System, including:

  • Cultivating buy-in from the governor;
  • Building coalitions among the public to advocate for a state longitudinal data system;
  • Creating an inclusive governance structure, and;
  • Grounding the data system in the state’s key needs.

Overall, the panelists made clear that extensive planning and legislation enabled the state’s implementation to go relatively smoothly. 

The second plenary session was delivered by Delaware’s State CTE Director, Jonathan Wickert. Jon spoke to the change management that enabled major shifts in the state’s postsecondary CTE data practices and system. At the center, Delaware prioritized building buy-in among staff and institution-level leaders and practitioners through many rounds of listening and feedback sessions. The state put itself in the seat of convener and let its stakeholders guide the principles and questions that would be addressed by new data routines and system requirements. This work resulted in a shared mission statement, principles and research agenda that ensures stakeholders and users needs are met by data system improvements. 

Over the course of the two-day convening, common themes emerged across the plenary, concurrent and interactive sessions:

  • State legislation has enabled states including Maryland, Kentucky, Florida and California to quickly build buy-in and sustain momentum for developing statewide data systems.
  • Inclusive, collaborative working groups convened by states including California and Delaware are powerful for ensuring states’ key priorities are identified early on.
  • Professional development for state and institutional leaders and practitioners is crucial to change beliefs and expectations around postsecondary CTE data quality and use.

Through the PDI, Advance CTE has worked with the Alabama Community College System, Delaware Department of Education, University of the District of Columbia Community College, Florida Department of Education and Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission to develop and implement comprehensive action plans to improve the quality and use of postsecondary CTE data. 

Learn more about the PDI grantees’ work and lessons learned through the initiative’s series of mini briefs here

Candace Williams, Data & Research Manager 

Legislative Update: New Congress Starts Amidst Uncertainty

January 6th, 2023

Just before the holiday season, the 117th Congress passed an end-of- year spending package which provided an increase for the Career Technical Education (CTE) and other CTE-related funding priorities. The new 118th Congress was set to formally begin this week, but has run into a number of challenges in recent days as explored below.

Congress Passes FY23 Spending Package

Prior to the holiday season, the 117th Congress was struggling to agree on full-year funding legislation for the current 2023 federal fiscal year (FY23). This important piece of legislation was the last remaining agenda item lawmakers needed to pass before concluding the 117th Congress. Just a few days before temporary funding legislation was set to expire, lawmakers released a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package for the remainder of FY23 for all federal operations and programs like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). Lawmakers in both chambers quickly took up and passed this legislation on a bipartisan basis with the House voting for passage 225-201 and the Senate voting in favor of the package by a margin of 68-29. Shortly after these votes, President Biden signed the package into law (H.R. 2617). 

The new law provides a $3.2 billion increase to the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) budget—an approximately 4 percent increase over FY22 funding levels. Of significant note for the CTE community, the omnibus spending package provides $50 million in additional funding for Perkins V’s basic state grant program— a nearly 4 percent increase over current levels of investment in the program—bringing the total for the formula grant account to roughly $1.43 billion annually. Lawmakers also provided an additional $25 million for Perkins V’s Innovation and Modernization grant program authorized under Sec. 114 of the law which is intended to provide competitive grants to support innovative approaches to CTE. 

In addition, lawmakers increased funding for Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants– an important source of funding for secondary CTE—by $100 million (7.8 percent increase). Elsewhere, the legislation invests an additional $50 million in apprenticeship expansion grants— a 21 percent increase over current levels of investment. Advance CTE applauds this result and is looking forward to working with Congress this year to secure additional investments in CTE as part of the upcoming FY24 federal budget and appropriations process.

118th Congress Begins Amidst Uncertainty

The newly elected members of the House and the Senate convened this week to formally begin the 118th Congress. As a reminder, Democrats retained control of the Senate, increasing their slim majority to 51-49 this Congress, while Republicans took control of the House with a narrow majority of 222-213. In the Senate, the start of the new Congress was a short affair. Senators gathered throughout the day on Tuesday, January 3, to swear in new members, formally name Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) the president pro tempore of the Senate (as the second longest serving Democrat in the chamber), and attend to other logistical housekeeping items necessary for the chamber to begin the new 118th Congress. Following these activities, the Senate recessed until January 23. 

In the House, however, efforts to formally begin the new Congress have been upended by the new Republican majority’s inability to elect a new Speaker of the House. Presumptive front runner for this position, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), has been unable to garner the 218 votes required to become speaker. At the time of this writing the House has attempted 12 votes which have each failed to elect a new speaker. A small contingent of House Republicans are opposing McCarthy. It remains unclear how or when these disagreements within the House Republican Caucus will be resolved. In the meantime, the House has not been able to formally convene for the 118th Congress—including the swearing in of new members—because a speaker has not been elected. Advance CTE will continue to monitor these developments closely.  

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Research Round-up: State and local government leaders should look to the “STARs” to address hiring woes.

January 5th, 2023

Advance CTE’s “Research Round-Up” blog series features summaries of relevant research reports and studies to elevate evidence-backed Career Technical Educational (CTE) policies and practices and topics related to college and career readiness. This month’s blog highlights the benefits of skills-based hiring that closely aligns with Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE where statewide systems and institutions effectively support each learner to earn credentials that are counted, valued, and portable.

Public sector jobs are necessary for the continued function of our society, but they are struggling to maintain staffing. The Center for American Progress’s report, The Benefits of Skills-Based Hiring for the State and Local Government Workforce, recommends that “state and local government shift to using skills-based hiring practices to expand and diversify the hiring pool and meet the sector’s skills needs.” This shift would be a departure from the present trend of state and local agencies requiring degrees that act as a proxy for skills. Skills-based hiring is gaining momentum and early implementation has shown promise. Adopting a skills-based approach for employees can be accomplished through initiatives that are already established in many states such as upskilling, teaching an employee new skills at any point in their tenure, or registered apprenticeships, a formal model that combines on-the-job training, classroom instruction and wage progression. 

The Center for American Progress defines skills-based hiring as the practice of describing a job by the technical skills required to perform it. Employers use skills-based hiring practices to fill vacancies by assessing whether a candidate’s skillset aligns with those needed. This report suggests that skills-based hiring is mutually beneficial for institutions and job candidates. Removing the bachelor’s degree requirement on job listings has the potential to increase the talent pool of potential candidates for open public sector positions and position government institutions as more competitive employers.

 

Talent Pool Demographics

More than 70 million Americans are skilled through alternative routes (STARs), a term coined by Opportunity@Work in their report, Reach for the STARs: Realizing the Potential of America’s Hidden Talent Pool. These individuals have either a high school diploma, some college, an associate’s degree or other credentials, but they do not hold a bachelor’s degree, which is the typical educational screen employers put on job postings. This requirement acts as a barrier for workers who are skilled through alternative routes ineligible for public sector jobs.

*Opportunity@Work excludes 20 million workers under age 25 from its analysis of the labor force to ensure that the majority of the population studied has completed their education. **STARs are workers who have attained a high school diploma but not a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. Chart: Center for American Progress  Source: Opportunity@Work, “Rise with the STARs,” available at https://opportunityatwork.org/our-solutions/stars-insights/rise-with-the-stars-report/ (last accessed October 2022).

By reconsidering degree requirements, public sector jobs can again be the engines of mobility they once were and reflect the demographics of the constituents they serve. The skills that STARs have built through alternative routes and pathways can be transferable from one job to another. 

*The proportion of Hispanic workers who are STARs is lower because Hispanic workers are less likely to have obtained a high school diploma. Source: Opportunity@Work, “STARsInsights,” available at https://opportunityatwork.org/our-solutions/stars-insights/hispanic-stars/ (last accessed October 2022); Opportunity@Work calculations based on U.S. Census Bureau, “ACS 1-Year Estimates Public Use Microdata Sample: YEAR 2021 ANALYZED,” available at https://data.census.gov/mdat/#/ (last accessed October 2022).

 

Skills-based hiring practices can make governments more competitive employers

State and local governments are facing a significant labor shortage as their workforce comes closer to retirement. Retiring workers (currently comprising twenty-eight percent of state and local government workforce) are far less likely to have a bachelor’s degree than younger workers. This suggests that the barrier to entry to these positions has increased over time and is not mandatory for these positions.

This report recommends the following five principles to make a skills-based hiring policy successful in state and local governments:

  • Involve key stakeholders.
  • Identify target job roles.
  • Reconsider degree requirements to build a skills-based job description.
  • Build recruitment partnerships.
  • Invest in worker training.

Additional resources about skills-based hiring can be found in Advance CTE’s Resource Center.

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

 

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