OVAE Connection - Issues 125 (Revised)

OVAE Connection

U. S. Department of Education
Office of Vocational and Adult Education

November 1, 2012 - Issue 125

OVAE Host Chinese CTE Delegation

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, OVAE hosted an international delegation from China as part of the Vocational Education Leadership Training program (VELT), which is administered by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE). The group of delegates included multiple presidents and vice presidents of postsecondary technical training institutions in China, as well as professors, department chairs, and the chair of a vocational institute college council. OVAE briefed the visitors on President Obama’s college completion goal and the strategies the Department is pursuing to achieve it, the U.S. CTE system, and the U.S. community college system along with the role of the federal government in supporting these institutions. The visitors asked questions about the U.S. CTE system, accountability measures used to ensure quality, distinctions in sources of federal support for students and institutions, differences between the degrees and certificates offered at community colleges, and the amount of funding institutions are eligible to receive under various federal grant programs. The delegates will continue their learning tour of the U.S. by visiting other federal agencies that are involved in workforce training, such as the Department of Labor, as well as community and technical colleges across the country. The photograph below shows the visiting delegates along with representatives from OVAE, AACC and CEAIE.

Chinese Delegates

Photograph by Bill Moser, U.S. Department of Education

NSF Interdisciplinary Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Opportunity

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued a solicitation for an Interdisciplinary Behavioral and Social Science Research (IBSS) competition. Growing out of the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences’ (SBE) 2020 visioning report, Rebuilding the Mosaic, the competition seeks proposals for research. The solicitation calls for proposals that involve investigators from multiple disciplinary fields, integrate theoretical approaches and methodologies from those fields, and are likely to yield generalizable insights and information that will advance basic knowledge and capabilities across them. Four cross-cutting themes were identified in the Mosaic report as potentially generative: population change; disparities in experience and access to resources; language and cognition (including communication, linguistics, and the brain); and new technology/new media and social network analysis. Eligible proposals are not limited to these cross-cutting umbrella topics. SBE anticipates future activities that will also support research in some or all of these thematic areas. Proposals that address research problems from an interdisciplinary perspective within these broad topics are welcome. 

Please access the full program solicitation for more information on the IBSS competition, as well as guidelines for eligibility, preparation, proposal submission, and deadlines. Full Proposal Deadline Date:  Jan. 23, 2013.

Report on Five CTE-Based Pathways Combining Learning and Work Experience

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) recently released Career and Technical Education: Five Ways That Pay Along the Way to the B.A. The report details the 29 million “middle jobs” in the U.S. economy and five CTE pathways that lead to them. Middle jobs pay a middle-class wage and require some postsecondary education or training, but not a bachelor’s degree. According to CEW’s analysis, the 29 million middle jobs in the U.S. today, represent nearly half of all jobs that pay at least middle-class wages. While the annual earnings threshold for a middle job is $35,000, nearly 40 percent pay $50,000 or more. 

CEW lauds the American CTE system for preparing youths and adults to fill middle jobs, enabling them to increase their earnings potential and career opportunities relative to workers with a high school education or less. The CTE system in the U.S. is noted for its flexibility, emphasis on applied learning, and ability to respond quickly to changing labor market needs. CTE is particularly valuable for providing opportunities for career exploration, creating programs of study that align high school curricula with postsecondary programs and employer-based training, and offering an alternate applied pedagogy that encourages persistence to high school graduation and promotes transitions to postsecondary education.

The American CTE system provides five major pathways to today’s middle jobs: employer-based training, industry-based certifications, apprenticeships, postsecondary certificates, and associate degrees. While many think about postsecondary education and training in terms of colleges and universities, this is just one portion of the system. A web of formal and informal training opportunities, including on-the-job training, formal employer-provided education programs, and apprenticeships, represents the majority of spending on CTE training. The report discusses each of the five CTE pathways that lead to middle jobs. 

Even though education and workforce development budgets are limited, CEW recommends investing more resources in CTE. Our ability to overcome the workforce development challenges facing the country will impact the ability both of U.S. businesses to compete in the world economy and of the country to be prosperous. CEW, therefore, calls for the federal government to invest heavily in CTE programs of study that align secondary and postsecondary curricula—thereby helping to reduce postsecondary remediation and curriculum duplication; support dual enrollment that speeds up degree completion; and expand opportunities for students to gain professional experience and earn while they learn. CEW also calls on the federal government to develop a Learning & Earning Exchange—an information system linking student secondary and postsecondary transcript data with employer wage records. The authors argue that this kind of data system would help make the U.S. workforce development and CTE systems more productive and efficient by providing policymakers, system administrators, employers, students, and other stakeholders with detailed information about in-demand jobs in the labor market and the success of specific CTE programs in preparing students to fill them.