From CTE Policy Watch – CTE’s place in the community college mission is the focus of two new American Enterprise Institute (AEI) publications.

The Path Less Taken: Barriers to Providing Career and Technical Education at Community Colleges argues that structures and policies disincentivize community colleges from growing their CTE programs. These barriers include state and local funding formulas that don’t account for the higher operating costs of CTE programs, and salaries that are too low to tempt instructors from industry; accreditation policies that favor academic classes and ration access to CTE programs; gainful employment regulations; credit-transfer restrictions; and business engagement challenges.

To help breakdown these barriers, author Diane Auer Jones suggests:

  • Additional funding for CTE programs at community colleges
  • Appropriate measures for evaluating outcomes, including a standardized definition for in-field job placement from the U.S. Department of Education
  • Accreditation policies better suited to CTE programs
  • Improved credit transfer policies as well as equivalency frameworks for students in noncredit programs
  • Stipends to industry representatives for engaging in needs assessments and DACUM (Designing A CurriculUM) processes

Rethinking the Mission: Community Colleges and Workforce Education by Tamar Jacoby puts a different frame on how to help community colleges better deliver skills training, focusing on state examples of innovation in performance-based funding, data use, articulation and employer partnerships.

In addition, AEI addresses the secondary level with The Evolving High School CTE, which examines the structure and performance of New Jersey’s county vocational-technical schools.

CTE develops technical, academic and employability skills at all learner levels, from career exploration in the lower grades to specialized occupational education that leads to a recognized postsecondary credential.