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[IWS] CRS: CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION (CTE): A PRIMER [10 February 2014]

IWS Documented News Service

_______________________________

Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

________________________________________________________________________

 

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

Career and Technical Education (CTE): A Primer

Cassandria Dortch, Analyst in Education Policy

February 10, 2014

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42748.pdf

[full-text, 23 pages]

 

Summary

Career and Technical Education (CTE), often referred to as vocational education, provides

occupational and non-occupational preparation at the secondary, postsecondary, and adult

education levels. CTE is an element of the nation’s workforce development system. As such, CTE

plays a role in reducing unemployment and the associated economic and social ills. This report

provides a primer on CTE to support congressional discussion of initiatives designed to

rationalize the workforce development system.

 

CTE prepares students for roles outside the paid labor market, teaches general employment skills,

and teaches skills required in specific occupations or careers. In order to focus and structure

programs, curricula, and resources, practitioners at the local, state, and federal levels often

organize CTE into 16 career clusters and various career pathways for each career cluster. CTE

career clusters include several occupational areas, such as health science and manufacturing.

Career pathways generally refer to a series of connected education and training strategies and

support services that enable individuals to secure industry-recognized credentials and obtain

employment within an occupational area and to advance to higher levels of future education and

employment in that area.

 

At the secondary level, CTE is offered in high schools, area CTE centers, community colleges,

and detention centers. Nearly all 2009 public high school graduates (88%) earned at least one

CTE credit, and 19% earned at least three CTE credits in a single occupational area. Four issues

confound the offering of CTE at the secondary level. The first is whether CTE courses should be

offered to (1) broaden the students’ education and provide early exposure to several career

options or (2) ensure students are prepared to enter the workforce immediately with an industryrecognized

credential after completion of a career pathway in high school or after one to two

additional years of postsecondary education or training. The second issue is the expense of

maintaining and updating the instructional resources and equipment for a single career cluster or

pathway, particularly at the secondary level. The third issue is whether CTE adds value to a

college preparatory high school curriculum. For example, U.S. Department of Education statistics

of 2004 public high school graduates demonstrated no significant difference in average wages

between all graduates working for pay but not enrolled in postsecondary education and CTE

graduates working for pay but not enrolled in postsecondary education. However, of the CTE

graduates working for pay but not enrolled in postsecondary education, only 30% were in an

occupation related to their high school CTE concentration. The final issue is related to state

adoption in recent years of the common core standards that are termed college- and career-ready

standards, although the standards do not define career-ready and thus may not provide immediate

career preparation.

 

At the postsecondary level, CTE is offered by community colleges, vocational schools, and

employers through apprenticeships and on-the-job training. Some CTE programs are terminal

(few courses are transferable for credit toward a more advanced credential), while others may

lead to stackable credentials (a sequence of credentials leading to more advanced qualifications).

The ability or inability to transfer CTE credits toward a credential with higher earning potential or

a bachelor’s degree highlights one conflict among policymakers. The difficulty in structuring

every postsecondary CTE program to include the first one to two years of general bachelor’s

degree requirements is that the CTE program will likely require more time to accomplish and

may be of less interest to the CTE student.

 

CTE for adults is work-related course-taking that may incorporate adult basic education (ABE).

At the adult level, CTE is offered by secondary and postsecondary CTE providers, employers,

and community and government organizations. The rates at which adults engage in work-related

course-taking increases with age, labor market engagement, and education.

 

The Bureau of Census collects earnings data for the adult population with various educational

credentials. The most recent data available on subbaccalaureate populations suggests that

alternative credentials (such educational certificates or professional certification and licenses) are

associated with a statistically significant wage premium for populations with no postsecondary

degree when compared to others with comparable levels of formal education. In addition,

vocational certificates and associate’s degrees in more technical CTE fields like computer and

information services are associated with substantially higher earnings than vocational certificates

and associate’s degree in less technical CTE fields like business.

 

 

Contents

Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 1

Federal Support for Career and Technical Education ...................................................................... 1

Overview of Career and Technical Education ................................................................................. 2

Career ClustersTM and Career Pathways .................................................................................... 3

Collaboration with Business and Industry ................................................................................. 4

Industry-Recognized Credentials .............................................................................................. 4

Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) ............................................................. 5

CTE at the Secondary Level ............................................................................................................ 5

College- and Career-Ready Standards and CTE Standards ....................................................... 8

CTE in Postsecondary Education .................................................................................................... 9

CTE in Adult Education ................................................................................................................. 13

Earnings Outcomes of CTE Credentials ........................................................................................ 13

 

Figures

Figure 1. Percentage of Associate’s Degrees and Subbaccalaureate Certificates by Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) ............. 11

Figure 2. Percentage of CTE Program Completions by Associate’s Degrees and Subbaccalaureate Certificates and by Institutional Control ............ 12

 

Tables

Table 1. Median Monthly Earnings for Individuals by Prebaccalaureate Education Level and by Alternative Credential: 2012 ..................................... 14

Table 2. Median Monthly Earnings for Individuals with a Vocational Certificate or Associate’s Degree as Their Highest Educational Credential and by Selected CTE Fields of Study: 2009 ......... 15

Table A-1. Career Clusters and Career Pathways .......................................................................... 16

 

Appendixes

Appendix. Career Clusters and Career Pathways .......................................................................... 16

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 19

 

________________________________________________________________________

This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 

 




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