Renewed Emphasis on the Criticality of CTE

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by Debbie Allen, Content Director, Career and Technical Education

“The need to strengthen the competitiveness of the American workforce is one of the most urgent challenges we now face as a nation,” stresses the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network (Challenges and Prizes in CTE). Of course, the basis for a competitive workforce is education. Student understanding of core curricular areas is essential. But equally important is the development of knowledge and skills that lead to job success. Quality career and technical education (CTE) that emphasizes career readiness and prepares students for high-demand fields is a burgeoning component of our education system.

With the 2019 launch of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, or Perkins V, the U.S. government doubled down on its commitment to supporting CTE through federal funding. The government also impelled states and school systems to rethink CTE with boldness and innovation (Perkins V). Since the passage of Perkins V, recognition of the significance of CTE has surged. For example, various states are acting to improve CTE teacher recruitment and training, and the current administration’s COVID-19 relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act, allows for plan funds to be used in strengthening CTE (CTE Policy Watch February 23, 2021, March 12, 2021). As well, the Center for American Progress demands that government initiate legislation to further bolster the connection between education and desirable employment options (Good Jobs for All).

Other emphases in the realm of CTE center on equity. Unlike its predecessor legislation, Perkins V requires that states allocate a certain percentage of funds to making CTE accessible to special populations (Perkins CTE Primer). These groups include English learners, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and homeless students, among others. Government and organizations are acting to uphold this crucial aim. Through organized competitions, the Department of Education rewards school districts that creatively expand CTE access for youth in underserved communities (CTE Policy Watch October 5, 2020). Meanwhile, dozens of organizations are working together on an initiative that calls for “the creation of a cohesive, flexible and responsive career preparation ecosystem that will close equity gaps in educational outcomes and workforce readiness” (CTE Policy Watch March 11, 2021). Other efforts include the development of best practices and models for ensuring diversity and inclusivity in CTE (Policies for Access, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in CTE, Using Collective Impact to Broaden Participation in STEM and CTE).

The growing importance of CTE has left CTE providers in need of quality CTE materials. At Westchester, we help our clients fill this void. We layer our understanding of the market with the capabilities of proven subject matter experts and content creators to develop exemplary CTE products. Contact us today to tap our expertise.

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