The Promise of Career and Technical Education for Boston and Beyond

By Marinell Rousmaniere

For the last two years, EdVestors has been a member of the Alliance for Vocational Technical Education (AVTE), a diverse coalition of education and business leaders working to strengthen career and technical education (CTE) in Massachusetts. On March 2nd, the Alliance published a white paper that offers a roadmap to expanding access to high-quality CTE programs to more students. The paper was released at a well-attended event at the State House that highlighted the ongoing success of CTE students across the state and the policy recommendations offered by AVTE to provide a strategic path forward.

Career and technical education connects academic rigor with authentic work-based learning and access to post-secondary and career pathways across a range of occupations and industries. We at EdVestors believe that developing relevant and engaging career-based technical education alongside of – not instead of – rigorous academics holds great promise for preparing more Boston students for successful completion of 1-, 2- or 4-year post-secondary pathways and entry into viable careers and employment.

We know career and technical education works. Studies show that students with significant exposure to CTE are more likely to graduate, enroll in college, get a job, and earn higher wages. The literature also strongly suggests that even modest exposure to CTE courses and work-based learning produces positive outcomes for students. Expanding access to various models of high quality career technical education for many more students will no doubt advance Boston’s goals for college, career and life readiness.

CTE pathways not only have potential benefits for students and schools, industry is also hungry for a better prepared workforce and employees who reflect the diversity of our city. A recent study from Northeastern University shows many employers have difficulty filling skilled, well-paying jobs, and see the challenge worsening as greater numbers of baby boomers retire. While a four-year college degree is still a valued credential, a second study projects that between now and 2022 the majority of job openings in Massachusetts will involve skills that don’t require a four-year degree. Successful CTE pathways can be developed in collaboration with business and industry partners who stand to benefit from more skilled workers graduating from the Boston Public Schools.

The AVTE white paper outlines five critical ways in which Massachusetts can work to improve CTE programs throughout the state: expanding access and equity, infrastructure investments, curriculum improvements, expansion of career readiness, and greater use of data/outcomes. The Baker Administration has taken important steps to serve the 80% of students statewide that currently lack access to career and technical education coursework and opportunities. This includes support for Early College and Innovation Pathway Programs and the Skills Capital Grant Program.

EdVestors is working with district leaders in the Boston Public Schools to outline a roadmap for CTE to realize the potential in our own city. If you wish to learn more about our emerging efforts in CTE at the state, district, and school level, we’d love to hear from you. We need all of us working together – leaders in education, industry, philanthropy, and nonprofits – to realize the promise of CTE for Boston students.

 

Marinell Rousmaniere is the Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at EdVestors.