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Employer Engagement Landscape Revealed in Survey of Career Ed. Leaders

There is widespread consensus that employer engagement is critical to the success of career technical education. Now, a new survey of state directors of CTE programs identifies effective models and emphasizes the need for schools to build scalable, sustainable partnerships with businesses.

A report released Wednesday by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, finds that 80 percent of CTE state directors believe employer engagement increased in intensity over the past decade, and all but three states anticipate that this intensity will continue to grow in the next five years.

The consortium survey included 47 state directors and interviews with 12 state and national leaders in the field.

To close the nation's job skills gap and develop a competitive workforce, the report suggests states consider a coordinated strategy with policies and leveraging resources to support career programs in high schools.

"CTE cannot deliver high-quality programs without meaningful partnerships with employers, who help ensure those programs are aligned with industry needs and have genuine value to students and employers alike," the new report says.

The survey found that 43 states require CTE programs that receive federal funding through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to create and use local advisory committees, which include employer participation. Ten states require programs to set up work-based learning opportunities,use employer-driven professional development for teachers, and/or monetary or in-kind contributions receive Perkins funding.

More than half of the state directors said there were pilot programs being funded by state agencies and legislatures to foster tighter connections between career programs and the business community. To help schools know how to navigate relationships with employers, nearly half of state directors said they issue guidance, such as manuals on managing business partnerships. About 20 states are using competitive grants to encourage employer engagement.

State leaders from Virginia and New Jersey, which are featured in the consortium report, shared some of the their innovative approaches to business engagement at an event covered in a blog post earlier this fall.

On Monday, the Council of Chief State School Officers released a set of recommendations to improve CTE programs that 43 states committed to use in upgrading their career education programs.

The consortium will host a webinar Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss the survey results and the national employer engagement landscape.

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