Putting the Learner First in Career Technical Education
Now that the election has finally come to a close, it’s time to refocus our energy on solving the challenges facing this country. And one of those challenges is connecting people to jobs. On average, employers have been adding 178,000 jobs per month this year. That’s 178,000 opportunities for businesses to connect with the talent they need to be competitive and 178,000 opportunities for people to access the jobs and careers that lead to economic self-sufficiency. However, with hopes that the economy will continue to experience growth, there is less optimism that business will find the workers they need to fill this expansion.
This challenge is particularly acute given the large population of workers nearing retirement and the need for employees to have a different set of skills and competencies than in the past. To address this challenge, this country needs to commit to new approaches that ensure young adults exiting our education and training systems are not only prepared to make the transition into the world of work but are also prepared to be drivers of innovation for this economy. In other words, how do we move students from being career ready to career competitive?
Career Technical Education (CTE) advocates, Advance CTE, and their partners representing a variety of stakeholders are answering that very question. Charting a new pathway for CTE, Advance CTE’s vision is focused on building the talented workforce this country needs to compete by “putting the learner first” in CTE programming. A key tenant of this effort is providing opportunities for learners to make meaningful connections with employers; yet, this type of access cannot occur without implementing new models of employer engagement and leadership in CTE.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s (USCCF) recent youth employment series highlights demand-driven approaches for chambers and other business associations looking to help America’s economy grow, businesses remain competitive, and provide students access to opportunities for success. In alignment with the Advance CTE vision for a revitalized CTE, USCCF’s work focuses on developing and implementing sustainable processes for employers to inform, validate, and participate in the implementation of career pathways. The four-part series includes:
- Talent Orchestrators: Scaling Youth Employment through Business-Facing Intermediaries—As the inaugural report, this paper provides a framework for intermediaries to better meet employer talent needs by deploying the right combination of supports for employers looking to create a pipeline of young talent.
- Competing on Innovation: Designing Business-Led Challenges to Build Next Generation Talent— This report takes an expanded view of work-based learning to include launching experiences that mirror the need for an innovation workforce by re-imagining how we educate and train future talent through project-based learning.
- Connected to Careers: Expanding Employer Leadership in Career Development—In response to the challenges of onboarding and sustaining employer engagement in career development efforts, this report explores how to strengthen the employer voice in career advising while at the same time equipping schools with the tools they need to prepare youth for the world of work.
- Career Readiness: A Business-Led Approach for Supporting K-12 Schools—While in the past college and career readiness were viewed separately, this report advocates for a combined college and career readiness indicator as part of state accountability systems while calling on the business community to play a leadership role in its development and implementation.
USCCF is committed to putting the learner first by organizing the business community in new ways.
Learn more at YouthEmploymentWorks.org.
Join Advance CTE for a webinar on November 15th to hear how other organizations are joining the cause to put the learner first.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erica Kashiri is Director of Policy and Programs at USCCF's Center for Education and Workforce.