The Path Less Taken: Barriers to Providing Career and Technical Education at Community Colleges

This report produced by Diane Auer Jones for the American Enterprise Institute, provides discussion on the type of post-secondary degree programs perceptions and significance to earnings. Findings include:

-The earnings associated with post-secondary education vary significantly based on one’s major and career path, among other things.

-Some certificate and associate degree programs in technical and allied health fields at community colleges can result in higher earnings than some bachelor’s degree programs.

-Despite evidence that vocational sub-baccalaureate certificates and degrees have a relatively high payoff, liberal arts and general studies programs have experienced the most rapid growth in community college enrollments and credentials. This may partially explain the mismatch between graduates’ skills and the skills employers demand.

-Community colleges face tremendous structural and policy barriers when trying to create new or expand existing vocational programs, including funding allocation formulas, accreditation requirements, federal regulations, transfer-of-credit policies, and stigmatization of occupational and vocational programs.


Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning, Solutions for a Stronger Economy

America’s most famous youth apprentice, Ben Franklin (a printer’s apprentice at age 12), reputedly described the basic learning process of apprenticeship this way: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” This aphorism fits 19-year-old New Orleanian Da’Jonae Curtis. Although she was valedictorian of her high school class in 2016, she had no interest in post-secondary education: “I knew that I didn’t want to go to school—I was just done with school.” Instead, Da’Jonae found Earn and Learn and is about to complete her job placement with Tulane’s HVAC department. “I was kind of skeptical [of HVAC work] at first. It was something I never thought about doing,” she says. But after almost eight months on the job, Da’Jonae is proud of the certifications she’s earned and looking forward to an externship. Da’Jonae describes what she likes about work-based learning: I like that it’s very hands on.


More Cars and Fewer People to Fix Them

It's a concern shared by most of the nation's roughly 16,700 new car dealerships whose profits are increasingly reliant on servicing the vehicles they sell, and less reliant on profits from the sales of the vehicles themselves. Dealerships are sacrificing margin on sales in favor of putting more cars on the road. More cars on the road lead to more cars in the service bays, and that means more qualified mechanics are needed.

New car dealerships sold a record 17.5 million new cars in 2016, as well as nearly 15 million used cars: 37 percent of the total of all used cars sold.

Service, parts and body shop activity accounted for 47.3 percent of the average dealership's gross profits in 2016, according to a study by the National Automobile Dealers Association, up from the 45.4 percent the previous year.


Career Tech Courses Becoming Core Subjects

The job market is shifting so that most traditional “trade” paths require a greater understanding of STEM courses and communication, requiring administrators and teachers to find more ways to incorporate this knowledge into career and technical education (CTE) tracts, District Administration reports.

•Traditional CTE pathways often now require post-secondary education, but the need for four-year degrees is diminishing as only about 23% of occupations require it — which means higher education institutions may need to spend more resources in promoting the idea of going to college.

•Students need to be exposed to a variety of career pathways in elementary and middle school so that they can begin thinking not only about their career goals but also about the courses they will need to get there, an approach that results in higher graduation rates.

 


Alabama Manufacturing Certifications will Create Educational Pipeline to Jobs

Alabama Community College System is teaming up with the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council to offer industry certifications. Alabama will be the first state to offer the council’s certification across its public colleges, state officials said.

A significant number of people in the state -- about 22 percent of the state’s work force -- are in manufacturing and transportation, said Jeff Lynn, vice chancellor of work force and economic development for the community college system. Yet more coordination was needed, he said.

“Around the state, I didn’t see a steady, strong work-force pipeline plan,” said Lynn.


National Certifications for Robotics and Advanced Automation

The industry-education certifications are the result of an 18-month collaboration of more than 150 subject matter experts from FANUC America, industry, automation system integrators, and leading advisors and instructors from high schools, community colleges, and universities. Participants focused on the need to prepare a talent pipeline of workers who possess the core competencies and automation technology skills to work in high-tech manufacturing.

Since 2010, FANUC has lead the effort to address the critical challenge caused by a shortage of skilled workers, and helped change the perceptions of careers in manufacturing. The new industry-leading certifications provide students and companies with measurable skill sets aligned with today’s advanced automation technologies, increasing workforce readiness at all levels.


$200 Million from DOE Backed Up By $300 Million from Corporations Supporting STEM Education

Many of the country’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Salesforce, pledged a total of $300 million for computer science education, part of a partnership meant to prepare students for careers in technology. The corporate donations follow a White House effort to direct federal money toward teacher training and resources that bolster science, technology, engineering and math. President Trump directed the Education Department to put $200 million in grant money toward computer science education.

Many of the companies involved in the computer science initiative have been pushing to increase computer training in schools. Tech companies see the STEM fields, and computer science in particular, as a weakness in American education and have pressed for coding and other classes to be bolstered to keep the United States competitive with nations that are pulling ahead in those areas.


Manufacturing Day 2017 at Over 2617 locations around the U.S.

Manufacturing Day is a growing grassroots movement of manufacturers dedicated to overcoming the shared challenges facing manufacturers today. The most pressing issue is a gap in skilled labor. 80 percent of manufacturers cannot find the skilled workers they need. This gap continues to widen. Manufacturers’ ability to address this issue has been hindered by the public perception that careers in manufacturing are undesirable and by the lack of sufficient preparatory education. Both of these problems stem from a lack of understanding of present-day manufacturing environments, which are highly technical. Manufacturing environments, which include highly trained, well-paid employees who work on state-of-the-art equipment, are commonly thought of as antiquated factories designed for low-skilled workers. Manufacturing Day addresses this misperception by giving all manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, exactly what manufacturing is.


Skills USA Members Joined by the Secretary of Education in Support of Career and Technical Education

Students representing career and technical education (CTE) programs in 29 states met with congressional representatives Sept. 26 after hearing the Secretary of Education call SkillsUSA “an integral part of their educational experience.” The students were attending the annual Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) to learn to be better advocates for public career education. During the Sept. 23-27 event, they visited their congressional representatives and paid respects at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns as well as the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. The annual WLTI, with 506 attendees, was the largest in SkillsUSA’s 52-year history.

Skills USA

50,361 Workforce Credentials Issued in Virginia in Fiscal Year 2017

Virginia has achieved the goal set in Executive Order 23 – Establishing the New Virginia Economy Workforce Initiative, which called for the annual production of 50,000 workforce credentials aligned with high-paying jobs in science, technology, engineering, math, and healthcare (STEM-H). The 50,361 STEM-H credentials awarded during fiscal year 2017 represent a 36-percent increase compared to fiscal year 2014 when the goal of 50,000 credentials per year was set. These credentials include: associate degrees, certificate programs, apprenticeships, certifications, licenses, and industry credentials.                   

 

“Because we set an ambitious goal of 50,000 STEM-H credentials each year, Virginia is transforming its workforce into one that is both highly skilled and work-ready for businesses across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe.  “These workforce credentials are critical to supporting Virginia’s growing high-tech economy by providing citizens the skills they need to get good-paying jobs. The success of this effort is a testament to the hard work of our educators, students, and business leaders who are strengthening our new Virginia economy every day.”


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