NCATC Friends and Colleagues,
It’s been over 18 months since I have seen you in person. You are missed!
The world of virtual platforms like Zoom and Teams has been a lifeline to all of us throughout the pandemic. Like you, we are using these tools to make positive things happen within the NCATC network across the country.
We are committed to leveraging the moment and collaborating on even bigger, more positive changes in the education and workforce development ecosystem. In this issue we reference organizations that are helping us all with solid data; best practice models; and more inclusive future-of-work goals, ideas, and challenges.
Millions of Americans without college degrees emerged from the Great Recession in insecure, low-wage jobs that lacked benefits like paid leave—and then COVID-19 made matters much worse.
People in tenuous, low-quality jobs were hard hit by layoffs caused by the pandemic—especially women and people of color. Meanwhile, employers were forced to embrace digitalization (McKinsey) to survive in the quarantine era, and many accelerated their use of automation (LA Times). Both trends are requiring new skills of workers to keep their jobs or obtain new ones.
For millions of students from lower-income backgrounds, the transition to college or the workforce from high school is a difficult, sometimes insurmountable, climb. That transition can look like a steep cliff when the support and structure of high school end, revealing a gap students must somehow cross alone.
At a time when more than 4.6 million young Americans (Aspen Institute) between the ages of 16 and 24 aren’t working or in school, it’s time to rethink whether the traditional boundaries between high school, college, and workforce are serving this new generation of learners. Students today should have many pathways from education into careers—and the educational experiences that shape workforce success must begin long before high school graduation.
Some of these illogical boundaries have already started to blur. In 2010, 15 percent of community college applicants (1.4 million students) were still in high school, thanks to the growing popularity of dual-enrollment programs. In some states, the share was as high as 37 percent. And since then, many states have sought to grow dual enrollment. More than 7100 Texas high school students earned associate degrees in the 2018-2019 academic year, and many of those credentials included industry certifications.
It’s time to radically restructure grades 11 through 14—the last two years of high school and the first two years of college. Our systems for transitioning students from high school to college and on to careers don’t work for most young people because there’s an intractable disconnect between high school, higher education, and the workforce in this country.
One of NCATC’s favorite think tanks and workforce policy experts is Jobs for the Future (JFF). We fully support their recently proposed solution to this problem: “Let’s erase the arbitrary dividing line between high school, college, and career preparation.”
JFF is calling this the “Big Blur.” It’s a proposal for fulfilling our vision of a new model and new systems that serve 16-to-20-year-olds better than the fragmented mix we have now.
The reimagined ecosystem would feature new structures that aren’t high schools or community colleges, but entirely new configurations of interconnected training, education, and work-based learning programs that prepare participants to enter rewarding careers and pursue further postsecondary education.
It would all be free of charge, and the learning would be aligned to labor market demands, with the academic instruction and the work-based learning programs leading to postsecondary credentials with labor market value and transferable credit.
Demand for shorter, more affordable non-degree education and training continues to grow (Inside Higher Ed), as does the supply of programs (Credential Engine). But many low-quality short-term programs (New America) lead to unemployment, underemployment, or poverty wages even in skilled occupations.
Community colleges are the nation’s true economic mobility engine. By expanding access to high-quality non-degree workforce programs, they can increase students’ career potential while meeting employers’ and the nation’s economic and equity needs.
We encourage all NCATC members to support passage of the Short-Term Pell funding in the JOBS Act for much greater effectiveness in CTE and WFD programs consisting of 150-600 contact hours of instruction and training.
NCATC continues to be part of the Manufacturing Industry Recovery Panel, which will help shape the Biden Administration’s Made in All of America initiative and related policies through meetings with the U.S. Department of Commerce and Congressional leadership. A few of the policy recommendations will focus on ways to support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for effective training and support. These will include:
Consistent with NSC’s Inclusive Economic Recovery framework, NCATC wants to help ensure that these initiatives address:
We are aware that skills training alone will not ensure an inclusive recovery, but it must be part of our nation’s federal policy response. The time is now to get much more actively involved in federal, state, and local policies that will set priorities and funding for the future of work.
Our 2021 Webinar Series has focused on DEI, Industry 4.0, and CTE/WDF policies in partnership with ACTE, NSC, CompTIA, NOCTI, NTMA, and others. You can find the webinar recordings on the NCATC Website here.
As always, we encourage you to stay regularly connected and up to date on all ATC and CTE-related activities and guidance via the weekly updated NCATC website, social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), and quarterly e-newsletters.
J. Craig McAtee
To build a strong workforce with the skills needed to find career success, we need to realize that both employers and higher education institutions have a role to play. If employers and not truly engaged in the 21st century workforce development solutions with education – they are without any doubt part of the problem.
Hiring managers must consider that many of the traditional education paths are no longer the standard:
Higher education institutions should collaborate with employers to align educational offerings with the skills needed to perform jobs in the real world:
NOTE: The BILT Model for success above applies here.
NOTE: These will benefit both customers of education and workforce development – the Employers and the Students.
NCATC continues to be part of the Manufacturing Industry Recovery Panel which will help shape the Biden Administration’s ‘Made in All of America’ initiative and related policies through meetings with the Department of Commerce and Congressional leadership. A few of the key policy recommendations will focus on ways to support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for effective training and support – and include, but are not limited to:
Consistent with NSC’s Inclusive Economic Recovery framework, NCATC wants to help ensure these initiatives address:
We are aware that skills training alone will not ensure an inclusive recovery, but it must be part of our nation’s federal policy response. The time is NOW to get much more actively involved in federal, state and local policies that will set priorities and funding for the future of work.
Our 2021 Webinar Series has focused on Access, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ADEI) in partnership with both ACTE and NSC and you can find the first two webinar recordings on the NCATC Website here.
And as always, we encourage you to stay regularly connected and up to date on all ATC and CTE related activities and guidance, via the weekly updated NCATC website, social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), and quarterly e-newsletters like this one.