Posts Tagged ‘workforce development’

Leveraging the Perkins State Plan to Maximize Systems Alignment and Impactful Relationships in Career Technical Education

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2024

The process conducted by state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders to update their Perkins state plan provides numerous opportunities to reflect on processes, procedures and relationships that keep CTE at the forefront of our educational systems. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) has been a driving force for connecting systems of education and work across the country. An intentional reflection on systems alignment ensures that CTE remains front and center across state career preparation ecosystems.

When we discuss systems alignment, we typically think about how a learner moves through secondary education, postsecondary pursuits and then the workforce. There are several strategy areas within Perkins V to consider how your state systems connect and align, including state and local planning processes, program alignment with workforce needs, integration with other federal programs, data-driven decision-making and stakeholder engagement. Each of these strategies offer opportunities to strengthen and streamline your work, and are discussed below with probing questions that may help you think more strategically about alignment in your state.

State and Local Planning

States are required to develop a comprehensive state plan for CTE. This plan outlines how the state will align and coordinate its CTE programs with other education and workforce development initiatives. During your state planning process, reflect on the following questions: 

Alignment with Workforce Needs

Perkins V emphasizes the importance of aligning CTE programs with the needs of the labor market. This requires reviewing local and state labor market data and collaboration with employers and industry stakeholders to identify current and future workforce demands. States and local agencies should use labor market information to design programs that lead to high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand occupations. During your state planning process, reflect on the following questions: 

Integration with Other Programs

Perkins V encourages the intentional coordination between CTE programs and other educational and workforce development initiatives. This includes coordination with programs such as apprenticeships, adult education, and workforce training. This coordination of efforts helps create seamless educational experiences for individuals, ensuring that they are prepared for both postsecondary education and the workforce. During your state planning process, reflect on the following questions: 

Data-Driven Decision-Making

Systems alignment efforts should be informed by data to guide decision-making. States and local agencies should collect and analyze data related to learner access, persistence, outcomes, program effectiveness, and labor market trends. Data-driven decision-making helps foster continuous improvement and ensures that resources are allocated effectively. During your state planning process, reflect on the following questions: 

Stakeholder Collaboration

Perkins V encourages collaboration among various stakeholders, including educators, employers, workforce development agencies, and community organizations. Engaging stakeholders ensures that the education and training provided through CTE programs is relevant and responsive to the needs of the community. During your state planning process, reflect on the following questions: 

Additional Support

By focusing on systems alignment, Perkins V aims to create a more cohesive and effective approach to CTE, ultimately preparing individuals for success in the workforce. States and local agencies play a crucial role in implementing and overseeing these alignment efforts. We are here to support you in this work and continue to drive forward that systems alignment is a critical need across the nation.

Advance CTE will continue a suite of supports designed to ensure your Perkins state plan serves as a powerful lever to achieve your state vision for career technical education, and more broadly CTE Without Limits. These supports include: 

Additional Resources can be found in the Perkins V section of the Learning that Works Resource Center

As we move into the new year, it is the time to reflect on how we work with one another and if those relationships advance learners within the CTE ecosystem. We look forward to continuing conversations with you about the various levers that can be tapped to optimize Perkins V in your state.

Stephanie Perkins, Member Engagement & Professional Learning

By Layla Alagic in Advance CTE Resources, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Congress Extends Funding Through Early Next Year

Friday, November 17th, 2023

This week, Congress passed another short-term extension of current funding for all federal programs and operations through early 2024. The measure maintains current funding levels for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) along with other critical investments in education and workforce development. 

Congress Approves Funding Extension

After weeks of uncertainty, newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) announced plans over the weekend to advance legislation that would temporarily extend current federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funds through early next year. The legislation bifurcates the 12 individual spending bills that compose the federal government into two separate tranches — known as a “laddered” continuing resolution (CR) — with two separate expiration dates of January 19 and February 2. Of note for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations component of this legislation would extend funding for programs like Perkins V and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) through the February 2 deadline.

The laddered CR approach was initially met with skepticism by some lawmakers, as the strategy does not appear to fundamentally change the underlying dynamics of Congress’ current challenges in finding common ground on full-year FY24 spending. Nonetheless, the measure was introduced in the House this week and passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority by a margin of 336-95. Notably, 93 Republicans and two Democrats voted against the measure—a dynamic that, just a few months ago, led to the surprising ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this fall. The laddered CR was quickly taken up by the Senate where it was passed on a bipartisan basis by a margin of 87-11. The bill was just recently signed into law by President Biden before current funding legislation was set to expire later today (November 17).

Ostensibly, the passage of a CR is intended to provide lawmakers more time to negotiate FY24 appropriations legislation. However, both chambers have struggled to make progress on their respective slates of appropriations legislation. Meanwhile, in the House, Republican leaders were forced to pull the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill from further consideration after it became clear the measure would likely not have the necessary support to clear the chamber. House leaders were forced to pull other spending measures from consideration for similar reasons the last few weeks as well.

While the passage of the CR will avoid a government shutdown for the remainder of this calendar year, it remains unclear how Congress will use this additional time to either pass additional individual appropriations legislation, negotiate a larger full-year FY24 package or take an alternative route altogether. Advance CTE is continuing to engage with partners on Capitol Hill to ensure that the funding needs of the CTE community are realized as part of this wider process. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Layla Alagic in Public Policy
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Maine’s Early College Programs: Empowering Local CTE Choices for Early College Options

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023

Providing equitable access to programs and opportunities by removing barriers to access based on location, socioeconomic situation or other factors is a key component of ensuring each learner can access Career Technical Education (CTE) without borders. This blog shares two programs as promising practices in Maine that allow all learners, regardless of location or socioeconomic situation to access dual-enrollment and early postsecondary learning opportunities. 

Maine offers two primary programs within their early college program offerings: the Dual Enrollment Career Technical Education Program and the Aspirations Program. A promising practice and important aspect of these programs is empowering local districts and CTE centers to choose the program and partner institution that best fits the needs of their learners.

The Dual Enrollment Career Technical Education Program (Title 20-A, Chapter 229) focuses on fostering a cohort-based approach to provide students in their junior and senior years with access to college credit-earning CTE courses. This program is only open to the state’s CTE centers and to be eligible for the program a CTE center must meet the following requirements:

Additionally, CTE centers must include individual learning plans, academic and career assessment, college and career advising, career exploration, and job-shadowing opportunities matched to achieve the learner’s individual academic and career goals. 

The Dual Enrollment CTE Program is optional, allowing schools to choose to participate if the program meets their needs and the needs of their learners. Maine’s 27 CTE centers and regions can partner with the University of Maine system, Maine Community College System, Maine Maritime Academy or approved independent institutions like the Bridge Academy Maine. The Bridge Academy Maine specifically works to offer college-level courses to Maine’s CTE centers providing hands-on experience. Offering programs that provide both career and college-readiness CTE opportunities enhances the options available to learners within the state. 

Understanding that there are costs outside of just tuition, the Dual Enrollment CTE program also covers additional related costs to further enhance access and better support equity of the program. Some of the costs that centers can be reimbursed for are professional development, learning management systems, transportation costs, books, and work-based learning summer academies. CTE centers are able to utilize the reimbursement funds both for initial program startup costs as well as for the continuation of programs. The Dual Enrollment CTE Program is managed by the Office of Workforce Development and Innovative Pathways. 

Promising practices:

Since 1997 the Aspirations Program (Title 20-A, Chapter 208-A) has provided eligible learners the opportunity to receive academic credits towards a high school diploma and an associate or baccalaureate level degree through dual-enrollments and successful completion of college-level courses at approved Maine institutions. As a part of the Aspirations Program, learners may earn up to 12 free credits per academic year with a maximum of six credits per semester. This program is available to all Maine secondary schools and is also available to learners who are homeschooled. 

The Aspirations Program allows learners to take courses during the summer, providing flexibility for learners and families. Summer programming has proven to be very successful with strong enrollment and completion rates showcasing the importance of not only empowering schools and districts but also empowering learners. 

Understanding that there are transportation barriers, including those living in rural and remote populations in the state, programs can also apply for remote instruction hosted by the approved institutions. This open access, regardless of the type of institution or location, provides greater access to a larger population of learners. The Aspirations Program is funded through the Department of Secondary Education’s general budget. State funding of dual and concurrent enrollment is an important aspect of supporting the ability of learners to access this opportunity.

Promising practices:

To learn more about the impact of state funding on dual enrollment, read Dr. Kristin Corkhill’s research on The Impact of State Funding on Dual Enrollment Participation in Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Programs. An alumnus of the inaugural cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation, Dr. Corkhill’s research was conducted as part of the Real World Project capstone project

For more information on helping learners access high-quality CTE and early postsecondary opportunities without geographical barriers, read the CTE Without Borders Policy Playbook in the Leaning That Works Resource Center.

Paul Mattingly, Senior Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in CTE Without Limits
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2023 Fall Meeting Keynote and Awards Dinner Celebrates CTE Leaders of Today and Tomorrow

Tuesday, October 24th, 2023

This year, we welcomed over 200 attendees for the Advance CTE Fall Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland to make meaningful connections and ignite innovation to Elevate Career Technical Education’s (CTE) Impact. Our general sessions featured leaders from across the CTE community who are going above and beyond to ensure each learner can achieve CTE without limits.  

Keynote: The Work Ahead – CTE and the Future of Work 

Our keynote speaker was Chike Aguh, an education and workforce development innovator who is a former Chief Innovation Officer at the U.S. Department of Labor and currently a Senior Advisor for the Project on Workforce Harvard. Chike set the tone for Fall Meeting early by sharing how his parents, first-generation immigrants to the U.S., had CTE-connected careers, which paved the way for his own success which included serving the President of the United States. Chike knows that more remarkable stories like this are made possible because of the work that CTE leaders do. His presentation explored the question:

What world are we preparing our learners for, and how does Career Technical Education prepare them for it?

Chike’s message was clear – the world of work is changing dramatically and CTE needs to meet the challenge. Some changes have already happened, such as automation and remote work from industries ranging from loan administration to transportation. Other changes are yet to come, and they continue to profoundly change and in some cases put at risk jobs that Americans rely on. 

The way CTE responds to these challenges, according to Chike, is by equipping learners with both “timeless” skills and “just in time” skills. These skills don’t just make learners prepared for the workforce, they make them economically indispensable. 

One resonating message from Chike is that “‘Career Technical Education’ is too small a term for what CTE leaders are doing and what they need to do”. He applauded CTE leaders and educators for the work that they do every day, yet stressed the hard work that lies ahead for CTE in empowering the workforce of the future. 

Star of Education Awards 

Fall Meeting also served as an opportunity to celebrate state CTE leaders who are making significant contributions to elevating CTE’s impact in their state. 

The State CTE Leadership Rising Star Award, awarded to Amy Miller, recognizes new CTE leaders who are actively engaged with and dedicated to advancing a vision for CTE that is committed to quality, equity and access within their state. Miller began her role as Assistant Director of CTE at the South Dakota Department of Education in 2020 following a career as a family and consumer science teacher, CTE director and high school principal.

The State CTE Distinguished Leadership Award, awarded to Dr. Sarah Heath, recognizes current and former state CTE leaders who have a distinguished and tenured history of service and have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to advancing a vision for high-quality and equitable CTE at the state and national levels. Dr. Heath, who served as President of the Advance CTE Board of Directors from 2020-2022, has held the title of Associate Vice Chancellor for CTE and State CTE Director in Colorado since 2015 following positions as a computer science and business educator, state program director and local system administrator.

In their acceptance remarks, both leaders emphasized the importance of their state and local partners’ shared commitment to innovation and the needs of learners as central to their success. Dr. Heath in particular elevated the unique community of the “CTE family” that connects leaders across the country. 

Preparations are already underway for the Advance CTE 2024 Spring Meeting in Arlington, Virginia from April 29-May 1, 2024! Visit the event page to mark your calendar and learn more.

Layla Alagic, Digital Communications Associate
Stacy Whitehouse, Associate Director, Communications

By Layla Alagic in Advance CTE Fall Meeting
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ECMCF Fellow Feature: Davil Jackson

Friday, September 29th, 2023

In September 2022, 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 month, we’re excited to highlight two members of Advance CTE’s second cohort of Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellows. ECMCF Fellow Davil Jackson (CA) is passionate about connecting learners with the tools and resources they need to make the most informed decisions about their futures.

Tell me more about your journey to the Fellowship. 

I’ve been working in employment and workforce development before I was fully aware of the terminology for this work. I’m drawn to this work because I have a passion for connecting people with resources and tools that they need to find employment. I first started working in New York at an employment development agency that specialized in medical field careers. A lot of the work was supporting 18 to 24-year-olds and individuals who had just been released from prison. After moving back to California, I was hired to coordinate a construction pre-apprenticeship program and eventually took on a role working with high school students as a career readiness specialist for a Regional Occupational Program (ROP) program. In this role, I learned more about the benefits of CTE. 

I discovered this Fellowship when a mentor share the application with me, and I saw an opportunity to advance my knowledge of CTE and become a more effective resource for my community.

What skills or areas have you experienced the most growth in the program? 

I have seen a lot of growth in my ability to engage with research and data analysis. This Fellowship has given me the opportunity to see how policy and research interact with practice, and as someone working locally with learners, this was an important piece of my development. Using data to tell a story and validate the need for change in policies impacting CTE will allow me to increase the impact that I’m having on my community.

Working directly with learners and local programs, I have a clear understanding of the barriers that currently exist. With this additional knowledge and skill in identifying the systems that perpetuate these barriers, I can develop policies to make significant and lasting change. With this knowledge, I’ve become more confident and prepared to take on a leadership role to grow my career.

Have you been tapped for new or more advanced roles within your organization as a result of your experience in the Fellowship?

I love my current role and the work that I’m doing to support learners. This Fellowship has shown me the ways that the skills I’m learning are preparing me for new opportunities as well. When the Fellowship started, I’d just assumed a new role as an apprenticeship career services advisor with the University of California Riverside Extension, and a few months ago, that role expanded to include employer engagement. This means I’m developing relationships with industry and business leaders to coordinate new apprenticeship opportunities. The Fellowship has given me the opportunity to build the confidence to articulate the work and the impact of this work to others. I understand how to engage in strategic planning and the processes for documenting the procedures to be replicated elsewhere.

How has your experience in the Fellowship helped you explore new spaces or positions in postsecondary state CTE leadership?

Through this Fellowship, I’ve had so much exposure to different professional development opportunities, convenings with national organizations and grant opportunities to enhance the work I’m currently doing. Exploring the field of CTE to understand how I can have the greatest impact on my community, creating connections and building my own awareness has been really powerful. 

Recently, I was announced as one of the CTE Leadership Collaborative 2023 Mini Grant recipients. I applied for this grant to establish a summer youth employment program. The purpose of this work is to provide 10 high school juniors or seniors with the opportunity to explore various career fields over a two month period in the summer of 2024. The goal is to create awareness and access to CTE opportunities in underrepresented populations. 

How has the Fellowship expanded your network? 

The cohort’s vast knowledge and experience have been hugely beneficial. I’ve learned so much through the workshops and the speakers who come in for the panels as well. I think this experience has affirmed what I’m always stressing to the youth that I work with, and that is the value of finding a mentor or a coach to support you. It can be difficult, especially as an adult, to find someone who can provide that advice and point you in the direction of resources. I would also add that the accountability buddies within the cohort have been really helpful, especially as a safe space to work closely to give and receive project feedback every other week.  

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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Elevating CTE’s Impact in Improving Workforce Development

Tuesday, September 26th, 2023

Career Technical Education (CTE) equips students with in-demand skills and knowledge, preparing them for successful careers in diverse career pathways. State CTE Directors are tasked with the crucial duty of promoting the integral role of CTE in improving workforce development efforts and subsequently their state economies. CTE is a pathway to a skilled and competitive workforce and below are strategies to effectively advocate for CTE’s potential impact.

Work-based learning experiences, such as internships, apprenticeships and on-the-job training, bridge the gap between classroom learning and practical application. Partnering with local businesses and community organizations is critical to expanding work-based learning opportunities for CTE learners. Demonstrating the tangible benefits of such experiences, including increased employability and a smoother transition into the workforce, reinforces the value of CTE as an effective workforce development pathway. 

This can be accomplished through elevating learner voice. Nothing speaks louder than success stories. State Directors can actively showcase the achievements of CTE alumni who have excelled in their careers after completing CTE programs. Featuring these success stories on websites, social media platforms and in local media can inspire current and prospective learners, parents and community members to view CTE as a viable path to achieving their career goals.

To strengthen CTE’s position as a workforce development pathway, an investment in modern infrastructure and technology is critical. Up-to-date equipment and technology not only enhance the learning experience but also demonstrate a commitment to providing learners with the necessary tools to succeed in the workforce. Additionally, leveraging workforce and economic trends to develop career pathways that are relevant to current labor needs creates the symbiosis needed for a properly functioning CTE ecosystem. State Directors can engage in outreach initiatives to build strong partnerships with stakeholders, highlighting CTE’s contributions to economic growth and prosperity. Engaging in conversations with employers and policymakers helps foster a shared vision and commitment to supporting CTE as a critical workforce development strategy.

Promoting CTE as a pathway to improving workforce development efforts is essential to creating a skilled and competitive workforce that meets the demands of a rapidly evolving job market. State Directors have the unique opportunity– and responsibility– to lead this transformative charge. By emphasizing industry-relevant skills, facilitating work-based learning opportunities, building strong partnerships, showcasing success stories and investing in modern infrastructure, CTE can remain at the forefront of workforce development initiatives.

For additional information, resources and tools on promoting CTE as a pathway to improving workforce development, please visit:

Brice Thomas, Former Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in Uncategorized
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Legislative Update: Stalemate on Funding Continues While House Examines WIOA

Friday, September 22nd, 2023

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill remained in session this week but have continued to struggle to find a pathway forward on federal funding for the upcoming fiscal year. Elsewhere, the House held a hearing to formally examine updating workforce development legislation. 

Congress Remains Deadlocked on FY24 Funding

This week the House and the Senate continued to struggle to find consensus on a pathway forward on federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) funding. With FY24 set to begin on October 1, lawmakers must pass stopgap spending legislation, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to extend current federal funding levels as negotiations on longer-term FY24 legislation continue. House Republican leaders, however, are struggling to build consensus within their own caucus about the duration and content of the CR as well as longer-term FY24 spending proposals. As a result, a government shutdown is appearing increasingly likely on October 1. While the Senate was expected to advance several more FY24 measures this week, those efforts have also failed to move forward as initially scheduled.

Both impasses are due to opposition from conservative Republicans demanding significant spending and policy concessions in exchange for their support for both a CR and, more broadly, full-year FY24 funding legislation. In addition, Republican lawmakers in the House have only considered spending proposals that dramatically reduce current federal funding, including funding for wider education and workforce development investments, by amounts far beyond the requirements of the bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) approved earlier this year. With the margins of control in both chambers extremely narrow, continued conservative opposition and demands to further cut domestic programs land exact other concessions have stalled Congress’ ability to reach a consensus. As this impasse continues, Advance CTE will continue to engage with partners in Congress to advocate for robust funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V*) and other funding streams important to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community.

House Holds Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Hearing

On Wednesday, September 20, the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing titled “Strengthening WIOA: Improving Outcomes for Jobseekers, Employers, and Taxpayers.” The hearing, which was framed by the committee as a formal first step towards a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), focused extensively on a number of issues including potential reforms to the law that would increase access to training opportunities. The hearing also focused extensively on ways to better promote employer engagement and to improve data transparency and accountability within the legislation. Lawmakers and witnesses also discussed strategies and approaches to better support youth populations and provide them with more robust training and employment options. Witness testimony and opening statements can be accessed in the recording of the hearing.

*As amended by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Layla Alagic in Public Policy
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ECMCF Fellow Feature: Dr. Angela Lawhorne

Monday, July 31st, 2023

In September 2022, 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 month, Advance CTE sat down with veteran and ECMCF Fellow, Dr. Angela Lawhorne (VA), whose decades of experience in CTE and workforce development sparked her desire to promote more effective pathways for some of the most vulnerable learner populations. Through the Fellowship’s emphasis on developing equity minded leaders, she has been able to empower the community colleges she works with to refocus on how they are engaging and serving justice-involved learners. 

Tell me more about your journey to the Fellowship.

I’ve been working in CTE for about 10 years and in workforce development for 20 years. I was really excited to join the Fellowship because I saw an opportunity to learn more about what CTE looks like in other states and the best practices that I could replicate and bring to Virginia. I was especially eager to learn about strategies for expanding access to learners.

What skills or areas have you experienced the most growth in the program? 

Participating in the Fellowship has allowed me to grow my ability to apply a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens in my work as the Director of Career Education Programs and Workforce Partnerships. I’ve been able to build a more comprehensive understanding of the  barriers that different groups of learners face, and the importance of not just recruitment, but the continued support that they receive once they enroll to complete their programs. I know that there are steps we can take to improve outreach to learners that have been minoritized, or those that come from low income or rural communities. Through intentional support structures, we can increase awareness about career pathways, stackable credentials, and get them into a career.

I’ve learned a lot about how to provide intentional support for special populations and the different nuances of the obstacles that these groups of learners face.

Do you feel like the topics and experiences in the Fellowship have helped you advance in your current career/ at your current organization? 

Absolutely. In my current role as the  Director of Career Education Programs and Workforce Partnership, I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be to make a major impact on CTE programs, both the credit and on the workforce (credential) side. Virginia has a ‘one door effort’ which allows students, no matter where they come into the college, to access information on both workforce and academic programs. This means that we’re able to give them a more complete picture of the different certifications or licenses that they can earn on their path to completing a certificate or a degree.

I support our 23 colleges and provide guidance and resources about how to establish and expand programs. Most recently, I helped write a large infrastructure grant application, and the knowledge that I’ve gained through the Fellowship allowed me to present a thorough background on and explanation for how this project will provide specific wraparound services and supports to make our learners successful.  I know that I’m able to have an impact in my role because I can broker connections between workforce and our colleges to design high-quality curriculum and programs that connect learners with employers.

How has your experience in the fellowship helped you explore new spaces or positions in postsecondary state CTE leadership? 

The Fellowship has helped me gain a more holistic view of our population of learners and their needs. The workshop speakers were incredible, and I’ve been able to push myself beyond just the cycle of outreach and recruitment to focus more on the reasons that learners persist and complete their programs. My dissertation is on the topic of student success coaching, and I believe that this is an area where we should be doing more to ensure that learners have the help they need to be matched with program options that are best for them.

How has the Fellowship expanded your network?

I’ve made some amazing connections through the fellowship. My coach has been incredibly supportive in connecting me with a network for both my professional and personal development. She’s also provided guidance in my process for completing my real-world project for the Fellowship.  My real world project topic is on expanding higher education for justice impacted individuals in Virginia. We created a Canvas course that serves as a resource repository for the colleges to connect them with everything they need to know to launch a new program. This includes information about  Pell Expansion, contacts at the prisons or jails, and then best practices from other colleges.

We’ve also created a resource page on the website, credits2careers.org (C2C), which was launched specifically for former military who want to determine their eligibility for credit for prior learning. We’ve included a page on the site for justice-involved learners. The website allows them to go in and plug in any certifications or other education they’ve completed, and it will show the equivalent credit for prior learning programs at each of our colleges. If they were enrolled in a CTE program while incarcerated, they can use this tool to find the colleges that offer their program and continue with little disruption.

Our next steps will be to survey the 23 colleges to collect data on the training of justice involved learners and their current program offerings.

Have you discovered new opportunities for what a role in postsecondary CTE could look like/ the responsibilities of such a position?

I definitely look forward to advancing my career. I would love to expand my reach and have a larger responsibility for expanding CTE and workforce development programs across the state. We’ve established a consortium with over 100 members made up of colleges, representatives from the programs at the prisons, the Vera Institute of Justic, and the Laughing Gull Foudnation to name a few. I’ve been leading monthly, virtual community of practice meetings as well as two in person convenings per year. Our new Chancellor is excited to continue to build on the positive momentum we’ve seen with our new Canvas and C2C initiatives. He’s eager to make these a part of his mission to expand the services that our justice-involved learners receive. 

To connect with Dr. Lawhorne, contact her at alawhorne7457@email.vccs.edu 

 

By Jodi Langellotti in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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ECMCF Fellow Feature: Nancy Ligus

Thursday, June 29th, 2023

In September 2022, 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 month, we’re excited to highlight two members of Advance-CTE’s second cohort of Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellows. ECMCF Fellow Nancy Ligus (WV) is passionate about finding proactive and equity-focused solutions to reverse the current education and workforce trends in the state.

Tell me more about your journey to the Fellowship.

I learned of the Advance CTE Fellowship through a colleague at the West Virginia Community & Technical College System last summer. We’d both previously attended one of Dr. Johnson’s information sessions to learn more about the content of the Fellowship and how participating would give us insight and the tools needed to address the diversity and equity challenges we face in post-secondary education in WV. In my role as Director of Workforce and Economic Development for the WV CTCS, I was connected to all nine WV Community Colleges and their efforts in developing training and meeting the workforce needs in their regions. Although I recognized there were gaps in access and inclusion to Career and Technical Education throughout the state, I hadn’t been involved in any initiatives to address the deeper racial inequities and barriers to career pathways. When I transitioned to my current leadership role at Pierpont Community College in north central WV, I realized that I needed the right tools to address these challenges. I saw the Fellowship as a way that I could gain those skills, knowledge, and significantly greater understanding that I could put into action.

What skills or areas have you experienced the most growth in the program?

Through my experience in the Fellowship, I’ve grown my understanding of how systemic policies play a huge role in creating and perpetuating barriers of access to high-quality CTE programs for marginalized populations. Our state has the lowest labor participation rate, low education attainment, and generally a perception of poor educational performance and outcomes, but my new knowledge has allowed me to feel more confident sharing my ideas with other workforce development leaders and collaborating on proactive approaches to reverse these trends.

As I oversee the workforce programs at my college and collaborate on career pathways, I look at each one with a new lens. I feel empowered to anticipate some of the challenges and understand how to overcome them to create more possibilities for people. I’m also bringing what I’ve learned to my staff and other leaders in my college as we are moving out of a transitional period since the pandemic. It seems so timely; we’re sort of starting over to recapture our community’s awareness of what the college’s role is within our region, and it’s a good time to incorporate policies to reflect our commitment to equity.

Have you been tapped for new or more advanced roles within your organization as a result of your experience in the Fellowship? 

While I currently only represent one region in WV, I’ve been invited to participate in several state-wide initiatives which will be very important to the state’s future workforce and economic development. When I’ve had the opportunity, I connect relevant learnings and resources from Advance CTE and the Fellowship to inform my work. I feel like these insights are appreciated and I feel proud to be the person introducing others to innovative ideas from our workshop speakers and discussions. 

One of my objectives for participating in the Fellowship was to pass on my knowledge to future potential leaders and mentor others to continue this important work. That’s certainly been the case at Pierpont Community & Technical College, where I am currently working with the academic leadership to develop more career pathways and create strategies for addressing equity gaps. I serve on several grant committees, and having this experience has given me more appreciation for incorporating my Fellowship-based understanding of racial equity into the planning and implementation of funding.

How has your experience in the fellowship helped you explore new spaces or positions in postsecondary state CTE leadership?

I’ve always been the type of person to seek out opportunities to take my experience and knowledge to a new level. Since participating in the Fellowship, I feel I’m gaining a whole new skill set to add to my range of knowledge in the workforce development space. In my previous position at the WV CTCS, my team and I worked hard to advocate for high-quality CTE programs. While I wasn’t always able to see this labor come to fruition, I feel more confident that I could bring both my post-secondary leadership roles together; knowing what it takes for a community college to put an effective training program together at ground level, with the big-picture knowledge and experience driving and supporting the effort. If I could create my own position, it would be something like Director of Workforce Projects or a role that allows me to serve in a DEI advisory capacity to develop equity-minded practices and policies across the college system and lead a council with representation from each college to share ideas and challenges that may be unique to their area of service.

How has the Fellowship expanded your network?

As a member and Fellow, I am grateful for the wide breadth of the Advance CTE network and resource access. Not only are the resources provided to us through the workshops and speakers, etc. incredibly informative, but the Fellows themselves are exceptional leaders and resources in their own right!  This exposure has revealed where there are still many opportunities for growth in postsecondary education. Seeing and hearing what other colleges are doing to address these challenges through this network, especially through the lens of racial equity, reinforces to me that changes need to be implemented now. 

To connect with Nancy, email nancyl.ligus@gmail.com.

 

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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Perkins Regional Meetings April and May 2023: Key Takeaways

Thursday, June 8th, 2023

Over April and May 2023, Advance CTE hosted three Perkins Regional Meetings across the country in Minneapolis, Baltimore and Phoenix, with over 200 leaders from across 40 states and territories which was made possible through support from the Gates Foundation. The agenda for the three meetings was designed for state leaders from secondary, postsecondary and workforce development to connect and collaborate on ways to enhance their current Career Technical Education (CTE) systems and programs. 

States participated in keynote presentations, workshops, roundtables focused on supporting special populations and cross-state sharing sessions with the intent of building and strengthening the career preparation ecosystem for all learners across the nation. State leaders and our Advance CTE team were both energized by the engagement and inspired by the dedication of all those that attended the meetings and are working to create a high-quality and equitable system that supports all CTE learners.

While each state has its own unique challenges, accomplishments and opportunities, certain recurring themes emerged across multiple states. The national CTE landscape is one of great opportunity but will need support to provide access to high-quality experiences for all CTE learners. 

Key Takeaways

Accomplishments

Challenges

Using the information gained at these meetings, CTE leaders will be able to build upon the accomplishments and help provide resources, tools and support to address the challenges within the current system, with an eye towards how states will leverage the potential to revise or update their Perkins V state plans as their original four-year plans come to a close next spring. Advance CTE continues to be available as a resource to provide best practices, information on innovative policies on the horizon and technical assistance to states to achieve our shared vision of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits).

As states work to address the challenges they face, Advance CTE has numerous resources available below and through the Learning that Works Resource Center to assist with goal set and challenges identified during the meeting: 

Save the Date for our next in-person opportunity to connect and receive support from Advance CTE! Our 2023 Fall Meeting: Elevating CTE’s Impact, will be held October 16-18 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Paul Mattingly, Senior Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in Uncategorized
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