Making Credentials Matter in Career and Technical Education

Engineer Showing Teenage Apprentice How To Use Lathe

Making Credentials Matter in Career and Technical Education

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This past August, the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) heard from staff at ExcelinEd about “Aligning Workforce Systems and Making Credentials Matter.” A researched argument was made for how and why there is such a large disconnect between the skills our workforce possesses and what employers are looking for. This blog post will go through their largest findings and why this is a complex problem that can’t be solved by a single party.

The slide above establishes the position our country is currently in. Tons of jobs are available in manufacturing, cybersecurity, nursing, and so on, but they continue to go unfilled because they can’t find qualified workers.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a popular high school career pathway framework used across the nation. As shown in the illustration above, it puts a heavy focus on the end career in all aspects of curriculum with the aim of preparing students to work in fields like manufacturing, welding, and cybersecurity. In 2016-17, over 8 million high school students were enrolled in CTE programs. That’s more than half of all students attending high school. If so many “qualified workers” are being trained, then why are so many of these jobs going unfilled?

ExcelinEd found that the credentials earned by students in CTE programs are largely misaligned with the professions they are meant to help those students enter. Some credentials students earn are oversupplied, others are undersupplied, and only 19% are supplied at the proper level. However, this is not simply the educators’ fault.

All stakeholders — businesses, states, schools, credentialing entities, and so on — need to do their part in ensuring that CTE programs are able to offer the courses and credentials that employers actually need. All parties would benefit from increased communication between stakeholders.

This is just a top-level look at this ExcelinEd presentation, but they list many other findings as well. View the entire presentation here for more information on the local impacts of credentials and the part they can play in filling the gaps in the job market.