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New Center for Public Education study looks at new pathways into the labor market

Today’s career and technical education (CTE) is not yesterday’s vocational education, and it’s not just for non-college goers.

NSBA’s Center for Public Education (CPE) today released its new report, “Career and Technical Education: Building New Pathways into the Labor Market.” CPE’s study finds that CTE provides multiple pathways into a variety of careers for high school and post-secondary students. When it combines high-level academics with technical training, CTE helps all students become more academically competitive, including those planning to enter the workforce shortly after graduating from high schools.

The Center’s work provides more evidence that what students do in high school is as important for students who elect to forgo college as it is for students who go on to college. High school graduates who concentrated in a CTE, took high-level math and science classes, had at least average grades, and earned a CTE certificate/license achieved comparable, and often better employment and social outcomes than the average college goer (at age 26). According to 2016 NCES data, all 50 states reported higher graduation rates for students who take a concentration of CTE courses (multiple courses in the same field) than those who do not.

At age 26, students attending college, on average, are more likely than people who are not attending to have a good job and engage in society. But a more rigorous high school preparation that includes high-level math and vocational courses in an occupational concentration improves those chances considerably for non-college goers. Non-college goers are more likely to be employed and earn good wages than the average college-goer when they add professional certification to their curriculum; and they are as likely to vote.

The Carl D. Perkins Act of 1984 changed the landscape by calling for increased integration between vocational and academic skills. Approved by the House of Representatives in July 2016, the Perkins Act still needs Senate approval for its reauthorization. Modernizing the Act will help school districts continue efforts to advance curricula that provide 21st Century skills and knowledge to meet the needs of both students and employers and provide practical training through apprenticeships and other opportunities.

What are some best practices for CTE programs? What are some of the challenges facing CTE? And how is it funded? Check out CPE’s report, "Career and Technical Education: Building New Pathways into the Labor Market" here for answers to these questions and more.

For more information about the Perkins Act read NSBA’s issue brief.

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