Exporting U.S. CTE Goods and Services: Success in the Global Economy Requires That the United States Looks at External as Well as Internal Markets If It Is Going to Reduce Unemployment and the Trade Deficit

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The United States needs to develop and implement systematic programs to market Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) (1) models internationally--the way other nations have. The short- and long-term social, political and economic implications for the United States are considerable, including the acquisition of new knowledge to improve American career and technical education (CTE) programs.

Equally important is the building of long-term personal linkages with individuals and institutions in other countries, in particular emerging economies, which are purchasing U.S. TVET (U.S. CTE) goods and services. Success in the global economy requires that the United States looks at external as well as internal markets if it is going to reduce unemployment and the trade deficit. Contacts developed through the export of human resource services and goods, such as those provided by TVET. can play a key role in addressing these issues.

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) has taken the leadership to develop partnerships to increase the international export of U.S. TVET goods and services the parameters of which will be rolled out at the 2009 ACTE Annual Convention in Nashville. In September 2008, at the invitation of ACTE, a number of representatives from public: and private sector institutions/agencies involved in CTE came together to discuss the international export of U.S. CTE goods and services.

The issues discussed at this meeting, and follow-up brainstorming meetings included: (a) Is increasing the export of U.S. TVET goods and services a priority and concern of the profession in the United States? (b) What are the opportunities to export U.S. TVET goods and services internationally? (c) What are the barriers to the export of TVET goods and services internationally? (d) What should be the role of different U.S. TVET institutions in promoting and increasing the availability of a knowledgeable and skilled workforce internationally? (c) How can we assist other countries with the development and reform of TVET?

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Context and Issues

Economic and Social Development: TVET, along with basic and higher education, is a key actor in ensuring that human capital is available to foster economic development. Over the past 10 to 15 years there has been a major focus on financing the development of primary education internationally. Today emerging and middle income countries are increasingly nearing full enrollment in primary schools, and secondary education is becoming compulsory in many of these countries. In parallel, the level of technology is increasing in the workplace. Because of these trends, countries realize that their large cohorts of youth entering and exiting secondary schools, and adults already in the workforce, need enhanced TVET if they are to gain/retain employment, increase productivity and contribute to economic development.

An informal review of World Bank databases indicates that there are about four times as many TVET students in emerging/developing countries compared to North America, and the annual growth rate of TVET students in developing countries is five times as great as in North America. TVET can be a major contributor to social development in these countries by offering career pathways and ladders, and contributing to political stability by addressing unemployment and poverty issues.

Globalization: The globalization process has resulted in countries increasingly being linked economically, socially and politically. When a problem develops in one country, it increasingly affects others (e.g., the current U.S. financial crisis). Globalization is also entering a new phase with companies in emerging-market economies now competing against those in developed countries. Globalization used to mean that business expanded from developed to emerging economies, but now it increasingly flows in both directions. …