“Aligning K-12 and college career pathways with workforce needs

From Fordham Insitute

by Stephen Shehy for Fordham Institute

This report, recently released by the Education Commission of the States (ECS), explores how states can better prepare students for successful careers by reviewing policies in thirteen states related to career and technical education (CTE). Specifically, its authors look at whether each state has: (1) facilitated collaboration between education and employer communities to promote CTE and close job gaps; and (2) created CTE learning opportunities and credentials that provide students with multiple pathways to gainful employment in high-skill industries.

Nine of these states do both, often by designating or creating groups responsible for providing these services. Some (such as Colorado) rely on state-level actors. Others opt for regional- and local-level institutions. Louisiana offers “Jump Start CTE programs” that are developed by “regional teams consisting of LEAs, technical and community colleges, business and industry leaders, and economic and workforce development experts.”

Ohio have taken a more interesting approach. In the Buckeye State, OhioMeansJobs disseminates workforce-demand data through the K–12 system. Schools then use this information to apprise the students of career opportunities via the Ohio Career Counselling Pilot Program.

Unfortunately, several states in the report fall short. Kentucky has no system in place for schools to collaborate with businesses in need of highly skilled workers. Nevada has yet to establish official CTE programs to provide alternative pathways to success. And New Jersey has failed to do either.

CTE programs—if implemented with rigorous standards, high-quality instruction, and collaboration with local business communities—can expand and improve a shrinking technical workforce. This report is a worthy addition to the growing literature on what steps are being taken throughout the country.

SOURCE: Jenifer Zinth, “Aligning K-12 and postsecondary career pathways with workforce needs,” Education Commission of the States (October 2015).