Legislative Update: ED and DOL Initiative and Resources from Advance CTE

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) shared information on an initiative to help unemployed Americans with postsecondary opportunities. Read below to learn more about what this includes, as well as new resources from Advance CTE on elevating the learner voice and addressing challenges in improving equity and access in Career Technical Education (CTE). 

ED and DOL Announce Efforts to Help Unemployed Workers Pursue Postsecondary Education

ED, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), launched an initiative to help connect millions of unemployed Americans to postsecondary education, especially those displaced from employment during the pandemic. To help individuals find educational opportunities and training that lead to good jobs, ED and DOL will alert institutions of higher education and state workforce agencies about how they can help unemployment insurance (UI) beneficiaries access postsecondary education. 

ED updated the guidance to financial aid administrators of postsecondary institutions about their authority to use “professional judgement” for individual financial aid applicants and adjust recently unemployed applicants’ income to zero- helping to ensure that learners receive the maximum benefit to which they are entitled. Moving forward, DOL will alert state workforce agencies that UI recipients are often eligible for postsecondary education funding such as federal student aid. ED also launched a new landing page that states can share with UI beneficiaries to help them identify opportunities at colleges that are also eligible training providers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 

Advance CTE and ACTE Release a Toolkit to Elevate the Learner Voice in CTE 

On Thursday, Advance CTE and the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) released With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE. This toolkit provides actionable resources, guidance and tools to ensure CTE learner voices are elevated and heard for the improvement of CTE policies and practices. Learner voice is often neglected even though learners themselves are affected directly by decisions made about CTE programs and have invaluable first-hand experiences. It is therefore critical that learners be engaged as key stakeholders in the decision making process within CTE programs. By empowering learners to share feedback regarding their CTE experiences through intentional and ongoing feedback loops, CTE programs can better address learner needs, break down barriers — particularly for historically marginalized populations — and improve quality.

The full resource and supplemental tools can be found here.

Advance CTE Shares Resources for Equity in CTE 

Advance CTE is sharing resources, tools and supports to help navigate the challenges to overcoming equity and access barriers in CTE. As described in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), there is a critical responsibility to identify and dismantle historical barriers and construct systems that support each learner in accessing, feeling welcome in, fully participating in and successfully navigating their career journey. Check out this toolkit that includes: 

  • Equity and access resources and blogs; 
  • Social media posts; and
  • Professional learning opportunities. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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