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ECMC Foundation Fellow Spotlight: Q&A with Tadd Wamester

July 03, 2023

We sat down with Tadd Wamester, Director of Partnership Development at EnGen. Originally from Connecticut, Tadd has spent the last 20 years in New York City, although his work has been national. Throughout his career, he has focused on educational and workforce development programs that support the economic empowerment and inclusion of immigrants and refugees, with special attention on underemployed Internationally Trained Professionals. In his spare time, you can find him cooking, gardening, or swimming. Continue reading for more insight into how CTE programs can optimally support–and benefit from–the intentional inclusion of New Americans.

Name: Tadd Wamester

Title: Director, Partnership Development

Affiliation (institution): EnGen

Fellowship and Cohort: The Talent of Tomorrow from Jobs for the Future (Cohort 2) 

Why CTE? What drew you to postsecondary career and technical education and keeps you committed to advancing the field?

I have always been a huge fan of CTE, apprenticeships and “earn and learn” models. Adult learners are pulled in so many directions, trying to balance life and family, but employment is a primary need. With so many new and emerging career pathways, and the changing nature of work, CTE, with its close industry connection, is responsive to the changing needs of the employer community. Career exploration can help learners understand all the different employment opportunities that exist. Short-term CTE credentials can accelerate their economic security and long-term earning potential. Diversity, equity and inclusion in CTE programs deliver a win-win situation by meeting employer demand and leveling the playing field, and this is a huge motivator for me. New Americans and multilingual learners deserve access to (and awareness of) the myriad career opportunities that CTE provides. Career exploration and mentorship can help move the needle and bring diversity to skilled trades and other CTE programs that to-date have tended to skew very white and male. Our CTE programs need to be representative of the population and demographic changes in our workforce.

What has been the most rewarding part of being an ECMC Foundation Fellow in the CTE Leadership Collaborative?

I really enjoyed the CTE Leadership Collaborative Convening in Nashville [in 2022] because we were able to connect with Fellows working on promoting CTE from marketing and research perspectives. I think far too many people are unaware of all of the career opportunities available in CTE. There is so much opportunity to promote these career pathways to adults and high school students who can rapidly prepare for in-demand careers. I also very much enjoyed the site visit to Nashville State Community College, where we heard from instructors, students, deans      and other relevant stakeholders. It was amazing to have this experience alongside the other Talent of Tomorrow fellows.

From your perspective, what is the greatest area of opportunity for strengthening the postsecondary CTE field? How do you see yourself advancing the field in years to come?

I recently delivered a conference presentation at the ACTE Work-Based Learning conference in Atlanta on the topic of “Inclusion of English Language Learners in WBL and Apprenticeship Programs.”.  Multilingual learners aren’t provided with the bridges, on-ramps or pre-apprenticeship programs at the scale to meet the need. But there is a great deal of interest in solutions to this challenge. English proficiency can be a barrier to opportunity, and we at EnGen are breaking down those barriers. We are making progress in a growing number of states, with innovative partners, but we have a lot of work to do to move the needle. I am very proud of EnGen’s partnership with Front Range Community College in Westminster, CO, to launch pre-apprenticeship opportunities for adult English learners seeking careers in allied healthcare. I’d like to see more ESOL programs systematically providing those bridges that will help motivated adult learners achieve credentials and connect with careers with growth opportunity.

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