21st Century Employability Skills Webinar

Join the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) Thursday May 22, 2014 at 2pm (EDT) for a webinar to learn about strategies for integrating employability skills into high quality CTE programs. The webinar will address why employability skills matter from the federal and state policy and employer perspectives and demonstrate the potential uses of OCTAE’s newly updated Employability Skills Framework website. Implementation strategies for workforce systems, student organizations, and community colleges will also be shared.

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Comment Period Opens on Career Pathways Systems

Add your voice! Tell us what works and where states need help to develop career pathways systems. The response period begins April 23 and will be open for 45 days. Save the date May 1 from 2 to 3:15 p.m. EDT for a webinar for Q & A on this topic.

The departments of Education (ED), Labor (DOL), and Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced the release of a Request for Information (RFI) to support the development of high-quality career pathways systems. The RFI solicits information and recommendations from a broad array of stakeholders—those in the public and private sectors, as well as in state, regional, tribal, and local areas.

The RFI is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the participating federal agencies.

As detailed in the RFI, “… ensuring robust economic growth, a thriving middle class, and broadly shared prosperity will require a significant expansion of the skills and knowledge of American workers over the next few decades.” To that end, ED, HHS, and DOL are exploring opportunities to improve the alignment of their programs at the state, tribal, and local levels so as to support robust career pathways systems. The three agencies will analyze the information collected through the RFI to inform and coordinate their policy development, strategic investments, and technical assistance activities and to improve the coordination of federal policy development with investments at the state, tribal, and local levels.

This RFI marks the first time that the three departments are jointly collecting and analyzing information on “…the benefits of and challenges to aligning diverse funding streams, programs, and stakeholders around career pathway systems; and the current and potential future use of career pathways systems to help at-risk populations gain skills and access the middle class.” At-risk populations identified in the RFI include low-income youths and adults, out-of-school youths, individuals with disabilities, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients, tribal communities, English learners, immigrants, rural populations, veterans, currently and formerly incarcerated individuals, dislocated workers, and trade-affected workers.

Career pathways systems are seen as a promising strategy for meeting the skills challenge by offering distinct but complementary workforce, education, and support services that are aligned with the needs of business and industry. These systems have also demonstrated promise for meeting the individual—and complementary—goals of the three federal agencies. This RFI builds on the 2012 joint letter to promote interdepartmental career pathways approaches and on related efforts across the federal government to improve the coordination and cost effectiveness of workforce investments and economic development.

As stated in the RFI, it is expected that the analysis period will not only deepen the departments’ shared vision and understanding of career pathways systems, but will also generate essential information that can “inform policy development and the next generation of investments and technical assistance by providing us with greater clarity on the facilitators and obstacles to career pathways systems development.”

RSVP for a webinar about the RFI will be held May 1 from 2 to 3:15 p.m. EDT. (Must be logged into Workforce3One to register.)

Getting to “Yes”

Photo of students standing with Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and DATE Division Director Sharon Miller

Students gather for a photo with Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and DATE Division Director Sharon Miller

Earlier this week, Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and I visited an Advanced Manufacturing Early College High School in Queensbury, New York. A partnership between the Hudson Falls, Queensbury, and Saratoga School Districts, the State University of New York (SUNY) Adirondack, and the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, this high school enables students to earn up to 24 college credits, four nationally-recognized industry certifications, a Regents diploma, and a valuable internship experience.

Students (juniors and seniors) are dually enrolled in high school and SUNY Adirondack as non-matriculated students. They spend half of their day attending classes that are co-led by college faculty and BOCES instructors, and the other half of their day taking Regents-level courses at their home school. Their work is largely project-based, requiring them to solve real-world problems generated by the program’s extensive group of business partners. A current project involves the students developing an MRI cooling system for Queensbury-based Philips Health Care.

As part of the visit, we received a student-led overview of the program, a brief tour of an advanced manufacturing lab, and then conducted two round tables–one with administrators, teachers, faculty, and employers, and a second with teachers, parents, and students. What stood out among the comments, one employer said, “The wonderful thing about this program is that it helps students ‘get to yes!'” By this, the employer stated that many of today’s new and current employees see only challenges and barriers to their work. They lack the problem-solving skills to analyze data, synthesize information, work through failure, and persist to resolution. This program is helping students to gain these and other essential skills to help them prepare for college and careers!

Indeed, our nation needs many more high schools and CTE programs like this across the nation. In so doing, we’d be helping many more students “get to yes!”

Sharon Miller is the Director of the Division of Academic and Technical Education in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

DOL Web Event: Innovating @ the Speed of Business

Department of Labor to Host Live Stream Talk on Workforce System Innovations

Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez invites education stakeholders to a live stream talk on exciting and impactful workforce system innovations being implemented by DOL’s Workforce Innovation Fund grantees. Secretary Perez will kick off this first event in the Eye on the Workforce Innovation Fund Stakeholder Engagement Series, providing opening remarks on the impacts that these innovations will have on our nation’s workforce system. He will be joined by Kate McAdams, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Employment and Training Administration (ETA) Acting Assistant Secretary Eric Seleznow.

Register now to participate in Innovating @ the Speed of Business on March 27, 2014 at 2:15 PM ET. Workforce Innovation Fund grantees in Ohio and Pennsylvania  will share their strategies for engaging businesses and creating viable pathways.

During the event, everyone is welcome to post questions on Twitter using the hash tag #workforceinnovation. The project team will monitor questions on Twitter and answer them from the Labor Department Twitter account (@USDOL) during and after the event.

This stakeholder engagement series is designed to provide a national forum for the public workforce system to discuss the power and promise of innovation. It will afford ETA the opportunity to engage with its valued stakeholders and to learn about promising practices that can successfully help businesses thrive and Americans get good jobs.

 

Missouri and Texas CTE Students Win National Ag Day Essay Contest

Clara Knipp from Tipton, Missouri, and Brackston McKnight from Jacksonville, Texas were selected as the 2014 National Ag Day Essay Winners.

Clara’s essay entitled “Agriculture: 365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths To Feed” compares the seemingly daunting challenge of feeding the world to the moon landing and encourages farmers, researchers, and educators to take “one small step” to meet that challenge. Clara is an Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) student and member of the Tipton, Missouri FFA chapter.

Brackston used still frame animation to win the top prize in the Video Essay category. Brackston is President of his FFA chapter and is planning to continue his education at Sam Houston State or Texas A & M University in his pursuit of a career in agribusiness.

Clara is scheduled to be recognized by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on March 25 at the Celebration of Agriculture Dinner where Brackston’s video will also be shown.

Finding Funds for Technology

The following appeared in the Teachers Edition on February 13 and could be helpful for High School CTE programs.

As the administration works to connect students to high-speed Internet through the E-Rate program, ED wants states and districts to remember they can use federal professional development dollars to support technology use. While ESEA and IDEA might not spell it out, states and districts can use some of the money to support “innovative technology-based strategies to personalize learning,” the Department says in a new Dear Colleague letter. For example, Title II funds can be used to help teachers improve their teaching through effective blended-learning practices.

Celebrate CTE Month!

Each year the Department of Education highlights the important role CTE plays in the lives of students and our country. February is Career and Technical Education month and CTE partners across the U.S. are joining the celebration.

The current edition of the OCTAE newsletter includes a message from Secretary Arne Duncan to the “students, parents, business, union and community leaders, educators all through the pipeline, and many more—who are helping to transform CTE and achieve our shared vision of educational excellence and opportunity for all students.”

Keep your eyes open for more activities celebrating CTE month and look for #CTEMonth on Twitter.

Office of Vocational and Adult Education Becomes Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Education blog.

Students in a studio

Technology is a critical tool for career readiness at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington, DC.

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) month, and what could be more fitting than to announce that the name of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education has been changed to the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). Vocational education was recognized as a national priority with the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917. “Career and Technical Education” has now replaced “vocational education” as a more accurate term to describe what and how students are studying to be career ready.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said, “The president and I believe that high-quality CTE programs are a vital strategy for helping our diverse students complete their secondary and postsecondary studies.” He acknowledged that those on a CTE track are helping our nation meet our economic and workforce challenges. “In fact, by implementing dual enrollment and early college models, a growing number of CTE pathways are helping students to fast-track their college degrees.”

Natalie Tran, a Future Business Leaders of America chapter president at River Hill High School in Clarksville, Md., told ED, “[In CTE] over time, you gain confidence—you know what you are doing, you know that you are able to go into the workforce . . . And it’s all about—knowledge is power, and that’s what CTE provides us.”

In 2012, the Obama Administration released Investing in America’s Future, A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education. The Blueprint calls for effective, high-quality CTE programs aligned with college- and career-readiness standards. These programs provide work-based learning opportunities that enable students to connect what they are learning to real-life career scenarios and choices. Students participating in effective CTE programs graduate with industry certifications or licenses and postsecondary certificates or degrees that prepare them for in-demand careers within high-growth industry sectors.

Student with headphones

A CTE student at the Veterans Tribute Career Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nev., explains her project to OCTAE Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier

Alvon Brown, a student from The Edison Academy at Edison High School in Alexandria, Va., studied to become an HVAC technician in CTE. He told ED, “. . . instead of just staying with being an HVAC technician, I want to become an engineer and work with HVAC, because I like creating stuff, and I like working—not only do I like working with my hands, I like thinking about what I can do with my hands.”

The Office of Vocational and Adult Education has had a rich history of being in the forefront of career, technical and adult education, providing funding and technical assistance to the career pathways movement, for instance. OCTAE continues to be the office in ED responsible for administering federal CTE programs, as well as the partner adult education programs. The Congressionally-mandated change in name to OCTAE acknowledges the CTE reality and looks to the future as it advances the priorities around preparing all youth and adult students for success in college and careers.

Which sectors will be adding the most jobs?

Did you know that the health-care sector and social assistance sector (which includes child and youth services and community services) are projected to account for almost one-third of the total increase in employment over the next 10 years? Or that, of the 30 occupations projected to have the largest percentage increase in employment between 2012 and 2022, 14 are related to health care and five are related to construction? Kristina Bartsch, chief of the Division of Occupational Employment Projections at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, discussed industries and occupations projected to gain and lose jobs between 2012 and 2022, and the education needed for those jobs, on C-SPAN’s “America by the Numbers” on January 31.

This story appeared in the February 6 edition of the U.S. Department of Labor Newsletter and was posted in the Youth and Adult Pathways microgroup in LINCS.

You can watch the interview recorded January 31, 2014 on C-SPAN.org.

Youth CareerConnect Grant Opportunity Announced for Local Partnerships

Last week, the White House announced a new grant opportunity to build America’s next generation workforce. The grants require a local education agency and institution of higher education to partner with their local workforce investment system and an employer to improve and expand programs that enable high school students to gain an industry-relevant education while earning college credit. In addition, students will be able to participate in work based learning as well as receive individualized career and academic counseling.

The U.S. Department of Labor will make up to $100 million available from H-1B revenues for approximately 25 to 40 grants. The deadline for applications is January 27, 2014! You can find information about the Youth CareerConnect grant program and how to apply at http://www.doleta.gov/ycc.