Career & Technical Education: Five Ways that Pay…

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 theU.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 theU.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 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 ofU.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 theU.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.”

For the entire 55-page report –

 Eric Ripley, Director of Career & Technical Education

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