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A Fresh Look at Career and Technical Education
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A Fresh Look at Career and Technical Education


From the Penn IUR and Penn GSE sponsored conference: …

From the Penn IUR and Penn GSE sponsored conference:

“Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs in Metropolitan America: The Policy, Practice and Research Issues"

May 25-26, 2011

Organized by Laura Perna, a professor in Penn GSE, and Susan Wachter, a professor in Penn’s Wharton School, “Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs” explores the most effective institutional and public-policy strategies to be sure high school and college students and adult learners have the knowledge and skills required for future employment.

“The conference addresses such critical questions as: How do we define success with regard to the role of education in preparing students for work?” Perna said. “How well are different educational providers preparing future workers? What is the role of public policy in improving connections between education and work?

“It seeks to improve our understanding of several fundamental dimensions of this issue through insights from federal, state and local policy leaders, college administrators and researchers.”

Guest speakers include Eduardo Ochoa, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell; Lori Shorr, chief education officer to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; Charles Kolb from the Committee for Economic Development in Washington, D.C.; Claudia Neuhauser from the University of Minnesota; Bethany Krom from the Mayo Clinic; and Harry Holzer from Georgetown University.

“Much recent attention focuses on the need to improve high school graduation and college degree completion. But, relatively less attention has focused on whether graduates and degree recipients have the skills and education required by employers,” Perna said.

The event is sponsored by the Penn’s Pre-Doctoral Training Program in Interdisciplinary Methods for Field-Based Research in Education, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences in collaboration with Penn’s Institute for Urban Research.

Published in Education , Business
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  • NYTimes 5/1/811 Class of 2010 with BA,s 56% had held one job by the spring; according to Andy Sum, which job mattersd: more liekly to be employed if in teaching, engineering most likely to have a job;


  • 1. A Fresh Look at Career and Technical Education
    Nancy Hoffman, Jobs for the Future, May 2011
  • 2. The Problem
    How youth are faring today
    Rising youth unemployment
    Low high school completion rates
    Low certificate, AA and BA completion rates
    Even with degree, many poorly integrated into labor force, some permanently left behind
    Goals of Lumina, Obama, College Board– 55% to 60% of population with degree by 2020-25 unrealistic-- & what of the” forgotten half”?
  • 3.
  • 4. School completion: Dramatic change in global skill supply
    • U.S. rate has stagnated while most industrialized countries have improved.
    Source: Schleicher (2007) based on OECD data. Approximated by percentage of persons with high school or equivalent qualfications in the age groups 55-64, 45-55, 35-44, and 25-34 years
  • 5. College level graduation rates
    • Even more alarming, U.S. college completion rates have stagnated while others have improved.
    Decline of the relative position of the US from 1995 to 2005
    Source: Schleicher (2007) based on OECD data. Percentage of tertiary type A graduates to the population at the typical age of graduation.
  • 6. The current US reality: only 40% of 27-year olds have earned an AA or higher
  • 7. Current High School CTE policy
    Young people want to be prepared for work: 1 in 5 concentrate in CTE in high school; most take at least one career course; majority in community colleges enroll in career fields. (NCES)
    Engage disconnected and low achieving youth
    Promote career exploration
    Keep all options open
    Prepare all for college (and career) but really college
  • 8. Some worrisome patterns post high school
    California recent research on community college CTE credential attainment (IHELP):
    255,000 degree seeking students 2004-05
    30% of course enrollments in CTE
    Within 6 years, 3% earned voc AA degree, 5% earned certificate
    Completers took almost no remedial courses and stumbled on courses like math and physiology
  • 9. “College for All” does not mean everyone needs a BA; even in this decade, many jobs with career ladders do not require a BA
  • 10. But every young person needs to integrate into the labor market
    Healthy youth development
    Belief in future
    Exercise of agency
    Place in the pubic world
    Testing of competence
    Discovery of skills, talents, and proclivities
    Civic participation based on faith in government
    Productive economic future
    Live independent of family
    Participate in economy as a consumer
    Form a family
    Change career as economy demands
  • 11. In ”strong VET countries,” 50 to 75% of upper secondary students are in vocational education and training
  • 12. Availability of career-tech in secondary schools increases upper secondary graduation rates
    • Share of Upper Secondary Students in Career Tech
    Source: OECD Education at a Glance
  • 13. What the US should envy from abroad:
    Qualifications systems
    Employer engagement
    Intermediaries to ease burden on employers providing work-based learning
    Problem-based skills and content teaching in the workplace combined with school
    Standardized applied assessments
    Regional entities linking labor market needs and educational programs
    Youth guarantees for struggling young people
  • 14. Must haves for a (better) system
    ***Employer and business leader engagement in design and support of effective pathways to careers
    Structured pathways with clear requirements, timelines, and outcomes leading from high school though postsecondary credential completion;
    Opportunities to engage young people in workplace learning;
    Effective career counseling and guidance, including scaffolded exposure to employers and career pathways beginning in the middle grades
    New institutional structures at the regional labor market level to provide coordination, quality assurance, and sustainability.
  • 15. Not a system but many promising practices within and across states…
    High Schools that Work
    Career Academies
    Project Lead the Way
    Linked Learning
    Cristo Rey, Big Picture, and Year Up
    Perkins-funded CTE programs of study
    Earn and learn early colleges
  • 16. CTE and Regional Labor Market Needs
    New NGA Report, “Degrees for What Jobs? Raising Expectations for Universities and Colleges in a Global Economy
    Profiles Minnesota, Washington, Ohio and North Carolina’s employer engagement strategies
    Proposes that higher education be less independent, take on broader economic development role
    Provides promising examples of employer engagement but doesn’t quite link the two…
    Nice intermediate step is identifying the reorientation needed in higher ed, but doesn’t ask employers to step up…