Building a Strong Middle Class Through Career Pathways Programs

The Center for American Progress recently released a report that both identifies the gaping need for the restructuring of the American education system and suggests ways to accomplish this with a renewed emphasis on CTE .

The time could not be more crucial for a conversation about how to build and sustain career pathways that achieve the need to train more of the entry-level workforce to take jobs in sectors that can sustain inevitable economic downturns. Such systems connect high-quality K-12 education with career training that leads to good jobs. As such, career pathways build a resilient middle class.  A shortage of workers is pushing wages higher in skilled trades. These jobs do not require a college degree but do require some training after high school. Approximately 30 million American jobs pay an average of $55,000 a year but do not require a bachelor’s degree; yet while a number of career and technical education (CTE) programs train students for these high-skill, high-demand, high-wage jobs, there are not enough of these courses and programs to reach every high school student.

Simply expanding career and technical education is not enough. One key solution is to ensure that there are meaningful pathways from high school to further training that leads to a high-quality job, as well as a supply of workers who have mastered the skills necessary to succeed in—and who have access to lifelong learning opportunities to stay current in—their trades. This will require a rethinking of how education is funded and governed in America, one that coincides with labor market trends and addresses not only the skills of incoming workers but also the quality of jobs that they enter.

This report:

  • Provides a brief history of career and technical education in the United States
  • Presents a vision for a revamped CTE system according to a five-part framework that is based on components of high-quality systems
  • Culls lessons learned from the high-quality VET programs of Germany, Singapore, and Switzerland
  • Makes recommendations for federal and state governments, labor unions, and employers to implement high-quality CTE programs

 

Building a Strong Middle Class Through Career Pathways Programs

 

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