|Decision Makers:||Educators State Government Nonprofit Leaders|
|Population Reach:||1-9% of WI's population|
|Impact on Disparities:|
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Career and technical education (CTE) or vocational training programs teach high school students, especially those at risk of dropping out, job skills needed for specific occupations as they complete their academic coursework. CTE programs often include internships or job shadowing outside of school settings. Some programs also include support services such as childcare, transportation, or job placement assistance, along with remedial coursework and life skills training (CG-TFR Education). CTE programs can prepare students for careers in fields such as information technology, health services, hospitality and tourism, communications, advanced manufacturing, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Many of these careers require additional education (e.g., professional certification or associate degrees at 2- or 4-year colleges) (Dougherty 2016, ACTE-CTE).
There is strong evidence that career and technical education (CTE) for at-risk students improves high school graduation rates (CG-TFR Education, Campbell-Wilson 2011, Dougherty 2016). Participation in CTE courses, especially as a concentrated program of study, can also increase students’ post-secondary education, employment, and earnings (Dougherty 2016). Additional evidence is needed to confirm long-term labor market effects.
On average, vocational training increases graduation rates among students at risk of dropping out by 15.9% (CG-TFR Education). CTE programs appear to have the greatest effects for boys and students from low income families (Dougherty 2016).
An Arkansas-based study suggests stronger education and labor market outcomes for students with a concentrated CTE program of study; such students are 21% more likely to graduate from high school than students in CTE without a concentration (Dougherty 2016). Evaluations of Job Corps, a widely implemented vocational education program, show increases in education, earnings, and employment two years after program completion; however, the effect on earnings appears to fade in the long-term, except for participants who were older (20-24) when they enrolled (Mathematica-Schochet 2006). Job Corps also appears to reduce arrest and incarceration rates among participants (Mathematica-Schochet 2006). A study of JROTC, a vocational education program for military careers, finds reductions in early turnover and suggests that programs with carefully aligned occupation training may increase life-time earnings by improving job match and fostering long-term employment relationships (Pema 2012).
Successful CTE programs identify high-growth industries, align CTE courses to specific skills and credentials, encourage CTE concentrations, and make high school CTE credits count toward specific postsecondary credentials (Dougherty 2016). Implementation challenges can reduce the effectiveness of vocational training programs, for example, staffing or funding difficulties, and low program attendance or completion rates (Campbell-Wilson 2011).
The cost of vocational training varies significantly, ranging from $2,100 to $10,500 per student. The estimated benefit to cost ratio for vocational training ranges from 2.9 to 1 to 6.8 to 1 (CG-TFR Education).
As of 2008, 94% of traditional public schools offer CTE courses, 71% have internships outside of school, and 4% are specialized career/technical schools (US ED-CTE statistics).
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, known as Perkins IV, is the primary source of federal funds to support secondary and postsecondary CTE programs (PCRN-Legislation). State governments can also support vocational education programs with policies to improve career readiness and align CTE with the labor market, as in Arkansas (ACE-CTE, Dougherty 2016).
National non-profits offer vocational programs that are designed to complement academic efforts to earn a high school diploma or a GED. Job Corps, for example, has training centers in all 50 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico (Job Corps). High Schools That Work (HSTW), implemented in more than 1,200 sites in 30 states and Washington DC, also includes career and technical education (SREB-HSTW).
Multi-sector partnerships also support CTE programs. For example, Manchester School District, the University System of New Hampshire, Manchester Community College and local businesses support STEAM Ahead (Science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), which offers courses for college credit, project-based learning, and internships for high school students (STEAM Ahead). The California Department of Education, the James Irvine Foundation, and the California Community Colleges also collaborate to support Linked Learning Pathways, a career and technical education approach used in 63 districts across the state (Linked Learning-CTE).
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