The COVID-19 pandemic exposed inequities in access to and success in career and technical education (CTE). This post summarizes a discussion among teachers and program coordinators about what has changed a year into remote instruction, and about how to make CTE programs more equitable now and when in-person instruction returns.
Recent federal policy supports creating middle-class jobs in the “green economy.” To better understand how community colleges can build programs that provide reliable growth trajectories for students in this field, MDRC talked with two practitioners about the North Carolina Community College System’s 10-year-old “Code Green” initiative.
Career and technical education programs are trying to address challenges faced by disadvantaged students, particularly Black students and other students of color. Access is only part of the path to equity as these programs focus on inclusive workplace environments, meaningful mentorships, and language that emphasizes strengths rather than real or presumed deficits.
Career and Technical Education Connects the Dots
The economic recession triggered by the global pandemic has magnified the need for high-quality programs that can help students acquire the skills, training, and postsecondary credentials they need to thrive in the workplace. Here are some programs that studies show improved academic outcomes and increased earnings.
Many schools are using technology-based tools to generate career recommendations and supplement the capabilities of their guidance departments. MDRC has partnered with two technology companies to test whether their career-advising software programs are viable tools for equitably supporting students as they identify and pursue future careers.
Amid keen interest in helping students, young adults, and low-wage workers build the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced economy, MDRC is studying a range of programs that feature employer involvement, such as career pathways from high school into college and the workforce, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and sectoral training.
How Community Colleges Are Advancing Equity in Career and Technical Education
Community college career and technical education (CTE) can fill shortages in the labor market while providing a pathway to economic mobility. But can it do so equitably? In 2019, MDRC’s Center for Effective CTE conducted a scan of notable programs across the country to find out more.
The Breaking Barriers program, based in San Diego, provided employment services to lower-income individuals with disabilities. MDRC carried out a random assignment evaluation of the program. As part of the Building Evidence on Employment Strategies for Low-income Families project, MDRC is collecting additional administrative records to extend the original evaluation.
Evidence Underlying Programs and Policies That Work
This brief, a collaboration with Results for America, identifies the major categories of career and technical education within the nation’s secondary and postsecondary education systems and describes the existing research on whether these programs are achieving desired outcomes for students.
Data can help career and technical education programs refine their models, pinpoint successes, and communicate lessons with funders and stakeholders. Drawing in part on conversations with leaders in the field, this brief outlines four steps programs can take to strengthen their data-collection and measurement activities and develop robust data strategies.