The America Forward Education Task Force’s Career and Technical Education Working Group believes Career and Technical Education is critical to preparing a skilled American workforce to meet the needs of employers and opening doors to opportunities that would not otherwise be available. The reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act gives federal policymakers the opportunity to leverage the capacity of nonprofit organizations familiar with the workforce needs of local communities and innovative policy and funding models to build capacity for positive results to effectively meet the needs of future employees and employers alike.
To do this, federal policies must embrace innovation, promote competency, and reassert a focus on outcomes. Through the work of our member organizations, America Forward has learned of the power of leveraging effective partnerships, rewarding results and incentivizing innovation to create person-centered, flexible systems of support that are able to respond to the changing needs individuals seeking to further their education or enter the workforce.
Now, our goal is to apply the lessons we have learned more broadly to the career and technical education system.
Policy Priorities for Reforming Career & Technical Education
The America Forward Education Task Force’s Career and Technical Education Working Group has collectively developed its Career and Technical Education Policy Platform for the 115th Congress that outlines the priorities we believe are necessary to open doors that create multiple pathways and support individuals who seek additional training, credentials or credit hours to achieve their career goals, and equip them with the skills for the jobs of today and the future. These priorities are outlined below.
Increase Collaboration and Coordination Between Secondary and Post-Secondary Institutions
Preferences and incentivizes should be given, when awarding grant funding, to partnerships that include local education agencies and institutions of higher education and to programs that serve the highest need jurisdictions and allow individuals to receive post-secondary credit while in high school.
Increase Collaboration between Career & Technical Education and the private and nonprofit sectors in order to align Career & Technical Education programs with regional and state workforce needs
The role of businesses—for profit and nonprofit—is critical in developing programs of study in order to accurately reflect the economic needs of individual communities and states should be authorized and incentivized to allocate funding based on the development and implementation of partnerships that involve the business sector.
Expose students to career and work-based learning opportunities
Programs of study should provide individuals with work-based learning opportunities and support should be provided to work experience through social enterprise, internships, national service, and other ‘bridge building’ opportunities that help develop work-ready skills.
Target federal funding to support innovation and scale-up outcomes-based programs and interventions
Innovation funds, Pay for Success initiatives, and evidence-based grantmaking structures should be key elements in federal policy related to career and technical education.
Ensure effectiveness of proposed CTE activities by strengthening performance measurement and accountability for results
While keeping in mind privacy and security protections, data should be readily collected and analyzed against a common set of performance measures in order to measure the success of post-secondary programs in awarding and renewing competitive grant funds.