Now more than ever, maintaining America’s competitive edge requires that workers obtain relevant post-secondary credentials and that employers have access to a well-trained and highly-skilled workforce. For decades, the national Registered Apprenticeship system and the nation’s extensive network of two- and four-year post-secondary institutions have been at the forefront of providing industry-driven education and training that supports business competitiveness and career advancement for workers.
Literacy Means Business was the title of a public dialogue hosted by the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia that focused on the role of the business community in career pathways and adult education and training. Johan Uvin, OVAE Deputy Assistant Secretary, shares, “The panel discussion addressed many important challenges and opportunities in both ESL and adult education policy and practice. Among the many takeaways was the opportunity that strong partnerships with businesses represent to address both the needs of adult learners and firms. Several examples were discussed from health care and other contexts that illustrated how improved skills of workers benefit employers, too.”
Update: Registration is now open for the webinar. Click here to register.
The third event in OVAE’s 2013 community college webinar series will be held on Tuesday, May 14 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. EDT. Building on the National Dialogue on Career Pathways held last October, this event will bring together foundation, state, and local community college representatives to discuss the central role of community colleges in career pathways systems. Whitney Smith from the Joyce Foundation will discuss the importance of career pathways systems and the Joyce Foundation’s work to expand the development of these efforts in the Great Lakes region. Dr. Jay Box, Chancellor of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, will present on the numerous statewide initiatives underway in Kentucky to ease postsecondary access and transitions for youth and adults. The webinar will also highlight two promising local career pathways programs. Deborah Davidson, Vice President for Workforce and Economic Development at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin will discuss the work of her institution to provide on-ramps for low-skill adults to access postsecondary education and training. Lupe Chavez, Director of High School Programs at South Texas College in McAllen, Texas will also present on South Texas’ efforts to expand partnerships with local high schools to increase dual enrollment and promote postsecondary transitions for young adults.
On April 19th, the U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, announced the availability of $474.5 million to create and expand innovative partnerships between community colleges and businesses to educate and train workers with the skills employers need. This is the third of four rounds of funding under the $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program.
On April 17th, we had the opportunity to host the 2013 Meeting of the State Directors of Career and Technical Education at the U.S. Department of Education.
Presentation materials and other resources shared during the meeting can be found on the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network. We encourage you to explore the site to learn more about national and state initiatives to promote career pathways and education programs of study development.
In case you were not able to attend the meeting, here is a brief recap:
In case you missed it, the President’s FY14 Budget was released last week. This past Tuesday, a special edition of OVAE Connection analyzed OVAE programs in the budget. Check out the detailed analysis here.
On Wednesday the President sent his FY14 budget request to Congress. To learn more about the President’s budget proposal for education, visit: www.ed.gov/budget14. For specific budget information related to OVAE’s programs, visit here. We’ll post further analysis of the OVAE proposed budget in the coming days.
The second event in OVAE’s 2013 Community College Webinar Series will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, April 10 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. EDT, and will focus on emerging community college correctional and reentry education models. Click here to register for the webinar.
Worldwide, there are nearly 75 million young people, ages 15 to 24, who are not in school and unemployed. This situation is being described as a global crisis which requires immediate, targeted and renewed action to tackle youth education and employment issues. The U.S. is no exception. Amidst high youth unemployment rates and a growing skills gap in our nation as the baby boom generation retires, our nation is also faced with a widening opportunity gap for vulnerable young people. In the U.S. today there are nearly 6.7 million “disconnected” young people ages 14 to 24 that are homeless, in foster care, involved in the justice system, or are neither in school or employed. According to the White House Council for Community Solutions, this roughly equates to 1 in 6 young people in this age range.
Focusing on the education and employment needs of “disconnected” youth populations is critical to meeting the President’s goal of the United States, once again, producing the world’s highest proportion of college graduates, and the world’s most competitive workforce, by the year 2020.
When the Harvard Graduate School of Education released its February 2011 report, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century, lead authors Dr. Ronald Ferguson and Dr. William (Bill) Symonds had no idea about the chord they would strike among our nation’s education, workforce development, and economic development leaders; business and industry leaders; researchers; national associations; philanthropic organizations; and even parents and students. The message of their report was straightforward: to address our nation’s high school graduation and “skills” gap, we must build multiple career pathways for youth and adults. We must move beyond the one-size-fits-all, or “four-year college immediately following high school for all,” approach to education. As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan aptly states, “we must move beyond the false dichotomy of preparing students for college or careers, and begin preparing every student for college and careers.”
Beneath the seemingly simple message and solution in the Pathways report, however, is an incredibly complex endeavor. Preparing all students for college and careers requires radical changes in the way we presently design, deliver, and assess teaching and learning. It requires commitment to providing every student with a rigorous core of academic, technical, and employability skills. It requires meaningful and sustained collaboration between academic and technical teachers, secondary teachers and postsecondary faculty, and educators and business leaders. It requires fundamental restructuring of the school day, changes in the delivery of career guidance and counseling, and an overhaul in how we prepare our nation’s teachers and faculty. It requires new methods for assessing and credentialing student learning, and evaluating the effectiveness of programs. It requires sweeping changes–at Federal, state, and local levels–in the policy and funding environment for education, workforce development, and economic development.
Despite many well-intentioned reform efforts that have come before, and incredible accomplishments in states and local communities across the country, radical change has generally eluded us. Part of the problem claims Dr. Ferguson, “is that we have to stop meeting and have a MOVEMENT!”
And, so, the Harvard folks convened, well, a meeting. But, this was no ordinary meeting. The two-day session held March 18-19, in Cambridge, MA, brought together the nation’s leading practitioners, researchers, business leaders, and students, for a “Direction-setting Conference.” The tone and context for the meeting was set by business leaders, including CEOs from Snap-On, Caterpillar, and Microsoft. The discussions centered not on the “problems” we face, but on the “solutions” we need. The highlight, as always, was the student panel that recounted the many exceptional programs they had experienced and that need to be brought to scale across our nation. To me, and likely for many others in attendance, it felt like the beginning of a movement, except that we already had a great running start!
The meeting caused me to reflect on work already underway in the Department, including our newly-launched Advancing CTE in State and Local Career Pathways initiative and our partnership with the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, and how well the Administration’s principles for alignment, collaboration, accountability, and innovation, were so echoed and reinforced.
Finally, as a parent of a soon-to-be six-year-old whose favorite movie is Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, one word kept coming to my mind—”unless.” “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” In the coming weeks, the Harvard folks will issue the recommendations from the meeting.
Sharon Miller is the Director of the Division of Academic and Technical Education at OVAE