The “Getting to Know” blog series will feature the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each one of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.
Meet Meghan Wills! Meghan is Director of Strategic Initiatives at Advance CTE; she’s been with the organization since August 2019. Meghan leads Advance CTE’s state policy and technical assistance work, including supporting the expansion of high-quality career pathways, providing technical assistance to states as they implement their Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans, and modernizing The National Career ClustersⓇ Framework.
Q: Through your work at Advance CTE, how have you seen employer engagement prioritized in high-quality CTE programs?
A: As a result of Perkins V, employers have more opportunities than ever before to become active participants in developing high-quality CTE programs. Through the comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA), employers can identify local workforce needs and high-skill, high-wage, in-demand occupations in their community and ensure that CTE programs and programs of study are aligned to those needs and opportunities. Work-based learning is a critical component of high-quality CTE programs, and the strongest work-based learning experiences are co-developed by employers and the education system to meet both learners’ and employers’ needs. Finally, employers and industry experts are serving as classroom instructors and industry mentors, which provide learners with invaluable opportunities to directly learn from experts in the field.
Q: What are the common barriers to effective employer engagement?
A: One of the biggest challenges employers face when trying to become more engaged in CTE programs is that the education system and employers speak very different languages. Employers are focused on skills their employees will need in the workplace, but they often feel that those skills are not sufficiently emphasized in the education system. Another challenge is that employers often don’t know where to start to become more engaged in CTE programs; while there are a number of opportunities for them to do so, which I described earlier, employers often don’t know about those opportunities or don’t know who they should contact to become more involved.
Q: What future opportunities do you anticipate for the intersect between CTE and employers?
A: As the country looks ahead to the recovery from COVID-19 (coronavirus), CTE programs can play a strong role in helping prepare learners for jobs of the future, as described in our recent fact sheet CTE Prepares Learners for the Future of Work. The coronavirus accelerated the pace of technological change, and workers in the near future will require a different set of skills to be successful in the workplace. CTE programs, with their strong emphasis on hands-on learning and real-world skills, help learners develop foundational skills that can easily be transferred across rapidly shifting sectors and work activities. As employers remain actively engaged in CTE programs, they can continue to ensure that CTE learners are well prepared with future-oriented foundational skills.
Employers eager to get involved with CTE in their state or local communities can leverage:
- Cheat Sheet: Opportunities for Employer Involvement in CTE, which provides a snapshot of ways employers can become more engaged in CTE programs;
- Our Learning that Works Resource Center where there is an entire section dedicated to employer engagement resources;
- Recent releases of the New Skills for Youth Innovation Sites for the Greater Washington Region and Germany that detail the collaboration between CTE programs and employers in their local area.