Advocacy is how you persuade an audience to take the desired action, whether that action is the enactment of a policy or increased enrollment in a Career Technical Education (CTE) course.
Our CTE Advocacy 101 Guide provides an overview of how to be a CTE advocate and tips to be successful throughout the advocacy process.
NOTE: Be mindful of the legal boundaries on participation in advocacy efforts. Understanding what can be done in an official capacity and what can be done in a personal capacity is important. Check with your organization or agency to understand any limitations within your role.
Step 1: Develop the Message
A simple way to organize the core message is around a triangle, with the desired action in the center and the best three supporting messages at each point. Advance CTE’s Core Messages for Attracting learners to CTE resource provides a description of the message triangle — or core motivators — that should be at the center of any communications effort.
Keep in mind that you can use the message triangle to prepare to reach out to a member of Congress and ask him/her to take a desired action. For example, you may want a member of Congress to vote in favor of a bill or sign on to a letter. Follow our Legislative Updates to stay informed about opportunities to connect with your members.
Step 2: Know Your Audience
Messages can be most effective when directed and tailored to your members of Congress. For example, supporting messages should provide information that would be relevant to the member’s state or district.
Consider visiting the websites of your members of Congress to learn about their education policy priorities before reaching out about a specific bill or letter.
Step 3: Tailor Your Message to Your Audience
Based on what you learned in Step 2, determine which of the supporting messages you developed will have the largest impact on your members of Congress.
Check out what’s going on with CTE in your state to find additional information that may support your message.
Step 4: Develop an Engagement Plan
Now, you can put together a stakeholder outreach plan, which includes finalizing communication channels (emails, phone calls or in-person meetings) and developing effective materials. For example, your outreach may include contacting a member of Congress.
Find contact information for your members of Congress, and share your message through email or direct mail. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your members’ offices.
Check out Advance CTE’s tool to help state leaders begin to build a communications and recruitment strategy.
Step 5: Measure for Success
It is imperative that you have ongoing outreach and communications strategies in place to make progress toward achieving your desired action. Keep in mind that an audience must hear a message an average of 11 times before it resonates.
A critical component for helping policymakers and stakeholders understand the value of CTE is lifting up high-quality programs of study that prepare learners for college and career success. For the past five years, Advance CTE has held the Excellence in Action awards, recognizing innovative and effective programs across the 16 Career Clusters® hailing from communities around the nation. Learn more about these programs.
Share your CTE advocacy stories of success and challenges with Advance CTE!
It’s important to begin to prepare for educating new leadership about CTE - and inevitable that newly elected education and workforce leaders will have questions about CTE given its importance to both systems. Below are resources to help state CTE leaders prepare for upcoming political transitions and be the most effective communicators on their statewide vision for CTE.
Key Tips for Engaging State Policymakers: Straightforward advice on preparing to brief new leaders, with tailored guidance for and questions to expect from new governors, legislators, state board members, and K-12 and postsecondary leaders.
Local example: Saginaw Intermediate School District developed a communications and advocacy strategy to promote their local millage to increase CTE funding.
- Utah has extensive fact sheets on its CTE systems, including an annual "At-A-Glance" flyer.
- Alabama created a brochure for new leadership
- Kansas shared outcome data with a Congressional delegation
- Oklahoma has extensive case-making and communications resources on OkCareerTech website, including "fast facts" updated annually
- Washington created a Perkins V fact sheet for its State Board
- Idaho has delivered a number of presentations, including to their state legislature, backed up by fact sheets.
Employer engagement is fundamental to building and sustaining high-quality CTE programs. As skill gaps and labor realignments continue to impact the workforce, it is crucial that CTE leaders effectively communicate the return on investment CTE provides to both learners and employers to fully leverage CTE’s potential to develop job-ready individuals in in-demand fields.
Shifting the Skills Conversation: Employer Attitudes and Outcomes of Career Technical Education highlights findings from a national survey of more than 300 professionals actively involved in hiring decisions in predominantly in-demand fields. The findings demonstrate strong support for CTE, robust alignment with top skill needs, and widespread interest in starting, expanding, and increasing funding for partnerships with CTE programs.
Leverage these tools in your advocacy work:
- Shifting the Skills Conversation: Employer Attitudes and Outcomes of Career Technical Education
Insights on top skills desired by employers, their attitudes toward CTE, and their current involvement in CTE partnerships based on a national survey of over 300 employers.
- A Fact Sheet ready-made for stakeholders with key statistics from the findings
- A Core Messages document that provides top messages for employers about CTE’s impact with supporting data
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has affected the most foundational aspects of our society, including our education systems and nation’s economy. With millions of Americans unemployed and some industry sectors shuttered or undergoing rapid transformation, Black and Latinx workers, workers with a high school education or less and female workers have been disproportionately impacted. Now, more than ever, CTE is vital to our nation’s learners, employers and America’s economic recovery.
CTE's Vital Role in Economic Recovery Video
This short video highlights the major talking points below to help make the case for CTE.
How to Promote Career Technical Education as Vital to Economic Recovery
A guide on how to use these assets including economic recovery and CTE talking points.
There are a variety of ways to get involved in advocacy — it’s all about your comfort level, capacity and intended outcomes. An important advocacy goal is to recruit more learners to CTE programs. Advance CTE and the Siemens Foundation are working on developing effective, equitable recruitment practices that fully empower and inform learners about the value and benefits of CTE is critical to increasing recruitment into CTE programs The following project materials and tools can be used in your recruitment and advocacy work:
- Career Technical Education Delivers for Families messaging card with fast facts
- Core Messages for Attracting Learners to CTE: A description of the message triangle - or core motivators - that should be at the center of any communications effort with secondary messages for populations historically marginalized from participation in CTE.
- CTE Advocacy 101: An overview of how to advocate for CTE issues.
We also encourage you to look through the below resources that may fit your advocacy plan: