We are committed to improving postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) outcomes for students from underserved backgrounds.
Spotlight: Seeding a More Equitable Future for CTE
Whether it is training workers for new roles that address supply chain gaps or building the pipeline of talented healthcare professionals, career and technical education (CTE) will fuel our economic future. Investment and public attention have yet to reflect this reality, complicating our efforts to ensure an equitable economic recovery.
The conversation around postsecondary education and the workforce continues to be dominated by the attainment of a four-year degree. Since ECMC Foundation’s shift to strategic grantmaking, we have worked to broaden the scope of this conversation, investing in solutions that give students more high-quality postsecondary options that fit their career goals, which may or may not require a four-year degree. That’s why investments in CTE have been a priority for ECMC Foundation from the beginning.
With an eye toward economic recovery and long-term equitable growth, our recent investments reflect an awareness that we will need many more workers—in particular, many more women and people of color trained for middle-skill jobs that will power our future (Work Shift, 2022). But forgoing wages to participate in training is not an option for many of today’s learners, especially those experiencing the effects of gender and racial wealth gaps. Institutions and intermediary organizations are developing and managing work-based learning opportunities that allow adults to earn while they learn, but the success of these programs hinges on buy-in from many groups, including unions and employers, that have historically had competing priorities (New America, 2019).
Aligning different stakeholders around shared goals is a fundamental piece of grantee partner Northland Workforce Training Center’s (NWTC) success. A public-private partnership between employers, educational institutions and state and local government, NWTC offers earn-and-learn programs in advanced manufacturing and energy for Western New Yorkers and combines credit-bearing programs with paid hands-on work experience. This allows students with financial limitations to gain the credentials and skills they need for careers that provide family-sustaining wages and benefits. With 61% of their enrollees identifying as women and/or people of color, NWTC also serves as a critical link between good jobs and those who can most benefit from additional training (NWTC, 2022).
Other partners, including The Century Foundation, The Ohio State University, Ranken Technical College and The Manufacturing Institute, also are making equity in CTE an explicit focus in their work. Workers and learners know that the world around them is changing and they are eager for viable, supportive education options that will prepare them for the roles our workforce needs to fill. With sufficient investments that recognize the importance of CTE to local economies, these programs can fuse the missing link in our economic recovery.
Banner photo courtesy of Northland Workforce Training Center.