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CTE Referenced as Important in Matching Skills to Jobs

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May 22, 2013

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CTE Referenced as Important in Matching Skills to Jobs

On May 21, I attended the National Journal's "The Underemployed Generation: Matching Skills to Jobs"  Policy Briefing. The event included many references to CTE-related topics and a great deal of focus about the alignment of education and business to address employment-workforce issues.

A highlight of the event included a keynote address from Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary for the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor. Oates said that CTE is critical to meeting today's workforce needs, noting that CTE teachers have integrated academics for years but that we haven't expected the same of academic teachers related to integrating real world application, which could provide relevancy for students. She added that good CTE programs are graduating students with multiple credentials and that schools which are cutting CTE programs will regret the choice later.

Regarding the skills gap, Oates said that we have to help businesses write better job descriptions. "When we have a skills gap, we should see a dramatic drop in wages and we haven't seen that in this job market," said Oates. She asked if the skills gap is real and suggested that employers may need to work on clearly articulating what they need. She also said that businesses and educators speak in different languages, which needs to be addressed by trade associations. I couldn't help but think of the Industry Needs Workforce Council which ACTE helped to initiate. 

Martha Ross with the Brookings Institution said that a more diverse set of pathways are necessary and that the nation has essentially given the Bachelors degree a status similar to "most favored nation." She said that the Bachelors degree has become a default for hiring and that there needs to be more focus on communicating the dignity all career paths. Dr. Anthony Carnevale with the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce said that education has become highly generalized in academic instruction with no systemic connection to employers in the U.S. system. Panelists generally agreed that more needs to be done to better align employment opportunities with available jobs.

Dr. Andrew Reamer with the Institute of Public Policy at George Washington University commended the states that are collecting and organizing supply and demand data but said that the approximately $100 million provided to states to work on labor market data systems has been flat funded for a decade. He advocated for an increased federal role and also discussed the potential of real-time labor market information available from businesses such as Monster.com which are analyzing online information to provide more immediate projections of job opportunities and credential requirements.

This was a terrific conversation that supports many of the same issues for which ACTE advocates. For more information go to: http://www.nationaljournal.com/events/the-underemployed-generation-matching-skills-to-jobs.

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