Magazine article Techniques

Career and Thchnical Education Is the Theme

Magazine article Techniques

Career and Thchnical Education Is the Theme

Article excerpt

It has almost become cliche to say that it is an exciting t i in e for career and technical education (CTE), but only because it continues to be true, Over the past few years, the interest and support for CTE has grown exponentially. Policymakeres at all levels have been working to advance opportunities for learners to engagc in CTE, and they have been working to srtengthen the links between CTE and the labor marker, as well as other sinificant education efforts.

In 2013, for example, all but three states had some legislative, regulatory or administrative action around CTE; and 2014 is shaping up to be an even bigger year for state action on CTE-related policies explicitly mentioming CTE in their State of the State addresses. In the past 12 months, Congress has held three hearings on the Carl D. Perkins Career and Teehnical Education Act (Perkins), and CTE was a key featrue in president Obama's State of the Union's education priorities.

Those in the CTE community have long understood its value in preparing individuals with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. And, as times have changed, we have come to understand that CTE needs to evolve to better align to the shifting demands of our economy, employers and students. This can best be demonstrated by the evolution from vocational education to career and technical eudcation.

This is not just a name change or a rebaranding effort, but rather a true transformation of the field. While vocational education was primarily focused on preparing a subset of students for jobs right out of high school, career and technical education is focused on helping all students build pathways to the careers of their choice.

In 2010, the state CTE directors from all 50 states and U.S. territories came together in support of a common vision for what high-quality CTE can and must be to meet its full promise. This vision was encapsulated in the document, "Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Edlication- (www.careertech.org/cte-vision), which defines our principles and beliefs and charts a bold agenda for the future.

This vision for CTE is structured around five interconnected principles--global competition, employer engagement, college and career readiness, programs of study and data/return on investment. Each of these principles represents both a theme in high-quality CTE, as well as a driver of many of the emerging state policies to advance Gl'E. And these principles are all central to ongoing discussions in Washington, D.C.. about the reauthorization of Perkins, providing a glimpse into possible fnture federal policy.

Principle 1: CTE Is Critical to Ensuring That the U.S. Leads in Global Competitiveness

Our nation's competitiveness largely comes clown to two factors: our ability to innovate and our overall productiv-itv. High-quality GTE is central to both these factors, in terms of its ability to oiler education and training in high-skilled and high-demand fields, as well as provide many opportunities for students to deinonstTate their innovation and ingenuity through hands-on, project-based learning. In short, this principle speaks both to the need to expand high-quality GTE and as a call to action for ensuring that the CTE programs being offered are of the highest quality.

One ongoing barrier to our competitiveness is the skills mismatch, or the disconnect between the skills demanded by employers and the skills of our current workforce. GTE is the most proactive approach to addressing this challenge, as it can provide secondary and postsecondary students with both specific occupational skills, as well as the broader and transferable knowledge, skills and dispositions that position them as adaptable vorkers and lifelong learners.

In Fact. some states--such as Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina--have used their investments in GTE to lure and retain international companies and prepare students to vie lbr jobs across the globe. …

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