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Department of Education Launches New Initiative to Help States Integrate Career-Technical Education and Career Pathways

Nov 15, 2012

By Marcie Foster

A new federal initiative announced last week, Advancing Career and Technical Education (CTE) in State and Local Career Pathways Systems, will help five states build the capacity to align career-technical education (CTE) with existing and developing career pathways. Funded by the Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) and run by Jobs for the Future, the activities supported by this effort come at a critical time in the career pathways field. An ever-growing number of states are interested in and developing cross-system career pathways, yet policy and program firewalls often prevent statewide systems from blossoming into a true collaborative, cross-system effort.

Career pathway systems, a sequence of education and training services that enable students to advance over time to successively higher levels of education and employment in a given industry or occupation, by definition bridge multiple education and training systems, such as adult education, workforce development, community colleges, and career-technical education. Similarly, federal investments in CTE through the Carl D. Perkins Act of 2006 require states to develop and grant recipients to provide one or more “programs of study,” which combine academic and technical skills to support student transitions to college or the workforce.

Despite these similar goals and missions, in practice, few states are able to fully integrate their CTE systems into career pathways due to policy and program disconnects.

This new initiative will integrate CTE into career pathways by helping states:

  • Align programs and policies and make system changes necessary;
  • Better align comprehensive education and training programs with the needs of business and industry;
  • Expand opportunities for secondary and postsecondary CTE students, as well as adults in career pathways, to receive industry-recognized credentials;
  • Sustain and take system reforms to scale.

This effort has the potential to support CLASP’s recently launched project, the Alliance for Quality Career Pathways, a CLASP-led, state-driven effort to identify a framework of benchmarks and metrics for high-quality career pathways systems.  The framework is inclusive of career pathways for low-skilled adults and out-of-school youth, with CTE as a vital partner both at the secondary and postsecondary levels. CLASP aims to make connections between these two projects at both the national and state levels.

State applications to participate in the OVAE/JFF project are due December 10, 2012. For more information on how to apply, visit the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network.

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