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.
Partnering with Young People to Study Persistence and Engagement in the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential Initiative
Participatory research—including members of a group being studied—recognizes that people closest to a problem have unique perspectives and knowledge. MDRC collaborated with a group of youth fellows in the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential project, and found that this approach can lead to better evaluation results.
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.
Unemployed or underemployed parents have trouble paying child support. In the Families Forward Demonstration, child support agencies sought to help parents get better jobs and increase their earnings by teaching job skills needed by local employers. The questions arising from the project may help other agencies evaluate prospective job training partners.
A Partnership Between Child Support Agencies and Local Service Providers
The Families Forward Demonstration examined strategies to help parents with low and middle incomes make reliable child support payments by increasing employment and earnings. The model, which emphasized free occupational training activities, shows promise for helping parents qualify for jobs in their chosen fields and for improving child support compliance.
When COVID-19 upended normal operations at STRIVE, a workforce development nonprofit founded in New York, the Center for Applied Behavioral Science at MDRC documented the agency’s real-time innovations that allowed it to continue serving clients during the crisis. Greg Wise, STRIVE’s National Vice President, shared a first-hand account of the transition.
When Washington state’s Division of Child Support closed its offices in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, its employment program—Families Forward Washington—kept running with minimal interruption, because the original design was based on working remotely. Its model may offer useful pointers for other service agencies for adapting to the pandemic.
Meeting the Needs of Workers and Employers
Low-wage workers have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing greater levels of unemployment than their higher-wage-earning peers. Training programs that focus on moving workers into skilled jobs in industries with strong local demand could reposition them for 21st-century success.
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, early care and education providers faced challenges attracting and retaining qualified, well-trained, and diverse early educators — and staff turnover can affect children’s early progress. Three approaches may help improve these workers’ access to professional education, their overall economic well-being, and their sometimes difficult working conditions.