Media Highlights

Our Nation Needs to Reauthorize Career and Technical Education

by Melanie Anderson   •  

At Opportunity Nation, we launched a Shared Plan to spotlight and create stronger pathways to education, careers and postsecondary education for young adults. We strongly believe that Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a crucial component of America’s education system and can serve as a critical pathway to employment, financial security and opportunity, particularly for youth ages 16-24. CTE reaches 94 percent of high school students and 13 million postsecondary students in the United States. Almost all high school students take at least one CTE course, and one in four students takes three or more courses in a single program area. One-third of college students are involved in CTE programs, and as many as 40 million adults engage in short-term postsecondary occupational training.

Career and Technical Education should be considered a viable and well-respected option for all students. However, we also believe that the current federal law for CTE has become antiquated and needs be updated and reauthorized by Congress.

Last week, Opportunity Nation was honored to be invited as one of three presenters at a U.S. House of Representatives Career and Technical Education Caucus roundtable discussion hosted by Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA). Staffers from dozens of Congressional offices attend to hear how schools can better assist students identify and prepare for the career path that is right for them.

As Opportunity Nation’s Director of Government Affairs, I participated in a conversation about how we can ensure the next generation of young adults attains both the knowledge and necessary skills to graduate high school ready for career and college. I also shared our campaign’s recommendations for CTE reauthorization that we believe will provide better opportunities for college and career advancement for young adults.

We know that today’s global economy demands that more employees have some postsecondary degree or industry-recognized credential. Yet, the current silos of secondary and postsecondary education systems – and the funding streams that perpetuate their separation – are not preparing enough students to meet the demand for these middle- and high-skilled jobs.  Career and technical education can provide students with opportunities for career awareness and preparation by providing them with the academic and technical skills needed to succeed in postsecondary education, training and employment.  

Opportunity Nation recommends that the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act be updated and reauthorized to help ensure there are better opportunities for college and career advancement. We recommend:

  1. Increased collaboration and coordination between secondary and postsecondary institutions that will drive better results and target federal grants to schools and programs with the greatest economic need.
  2. Increased collaboration between CTE and the private sector; CTE programs aligned with regional and state workforce needs; and students exposed to career and work-based learning opportunities.
  3. Creation of an Enterprising Pathways Innovation Fund that would: reward evidence-based promising practices; focus on programs that can be scaled and replicated; and leverage more support from the private sector for such models.
  4. Strengthened performance measurement, accountability for results and the development of evidenced-based programs.

We are eager to see Congress take up this important legislation, and we look forward to further conversations with the Congressional CTE Caucus.

Melanie Anderson Melanie Anderson is the Director of Government and External Affairs at Opportunity Nation. She directs the campaign’s government relations and policy efforts. Read Melanie's bio.

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