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#AskExcelinEd: How can state policymakers support cross-sector partnerships for CTE programs?

• Quentin Suffren

In today’s #AskExcelinEd, Quentin Suffren draws from ExcelinEd’s latest playbook series to share how stakeholder can better align career and technical education (CTE) programs with industry demands in their region and state. The five playbook series and accompanying resources will provide state education leaders and local employers a practical guide for improving the “education to career” pipelines in their states.

Check out the first two playbooks, and stay tuned for new releases over the summer!

Most cross-sector partnerships that support career and technical education (CTE) programs develop and operate at the regional and local levels. After all, these are the communities where K-12 schools, institutions of higher education and businesses are most engaged. Yet cross-sector partnerships still need state-level engagement to improve their chances for success. Indeed, regional and local partnerships often depend on state agencies and statewide initiatives to secure the flexibility, funding and resources needed for long-term sustainability. So what can state policymakers do to support cross-sector partnerships for CTE?

Below are several strategies and recommendations policymakers at all levels can consider to incentivize and promote robust partnerships that can transform career and technical education outcomes for students and address critical workforce needs.

Executive Call to Action: A Clarion Call to All Stakeholders
  • As a matter of economic security and prosperity, governors and/or lieutenant governors can direct K-12, workforce and postsecondary agencies to align and strengthen CTE programs to meet workforce demands of today and tomorrow, with a focus on middle- and higher-wage occupations and credentials. Engagement with statewide, regional and local business industry partners is a critical component of such efforts.
Legislative Strategies: Incentives, Tax Credits and Flexibility
  • Provide innovative support to schools and districts to transport students who participate in formal, district-recognized work-based learning programs with business and industry partners. This may include the ability to purchase liability insurance for students who work at an employer’s site.
  • Provide tax credits to businesses that provide high school student internships and apprenticeships through formalized regional or local K-12/K-16 education-to-occupation pathway initiatives.
  • Provide incentive funds to schools for students who successfully earn high-value, industry-recognized credentials and/or complete work-based learning experiences in coordination with formal business and industry partnerships.
  • Provide districts and schools the flexibility to recruit and locally certify industry professionals for instructional opportunities in high school CTE pathways.
State Agency Actions: Targeted Program Funding and Rule Revisions
  • Reallocate or target existing discretionary funds in support of regional and local cross-sector partnerships for robust CTE and career pathways for students. For instance, start-up and support funding for intermediary organizations through federal Perkins Reserve grants can spur significant action at the regional and local levels.
  • Revisit and revise existing “teacher-of-record” policies and rules to allow for expanded engagement of industry professionals in classroom and lab instruction. Business and industry stakeholders will be more willing to engage in partnership efforts if states reduce barriers to entry and participation.

For more information, check out Building Cross-Sector Partnerships to Support Career and Technical Education Pathways: A Playbook for State Policymakers.

About the author

Quentin Suffren

As Innovation Policy Managing Director, Quentin oversees Personalized Learning, College and Career Pathways and Course Access policies at ExcelinEd. Previously, Quentin served as executive director of the college, career, and military preparation at the Texas Education Agency. He also held leadership positions with Amplify Education, an education consulting and technology firm, TNTP, and The Learning Institute. Quentin began his career as a high school English teacher. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Memphis.