We already know that Missouri needs to prepare more of its students to enter the workforce after graduation, but the COVID-19 crisis has made that need even more pressing. This summer, students are revisiting their post-graduation plans. Some have concerns about attending college this fall because of possible health risks; if they’re to put off college for a year or more, then their readiness to enter the job market becomes an immediate concern. Other students will decide not to enter college this year because of the economic damage done by COVID-19 to their family’s budget. It may make sense to them to work for a year or two and build up some savings rather than plunge into college debt heading into an uncertain future. While we hope that the virus itself will no longer be a threat a year from now, the economic fallout from the pandemic will likely last much longer.
As more students consider moving directly from high school to the workforce, they will need quality career and technical education (CTE) at their schools to provide them with job skills and work experience that will qualify them for good jobs after graduation. Are schools ready to respond to changes in the needs and priorities of their students? If not, what will it take to get them ready? How well are CTE programs in Missouri serving students now? Any district that currently treats technical education as a backwater for kids who “don’t have what it takes” for college is already doing a disservice to its community, and the harm done will only get worse in the coming years.
Today I’m releasing two essays: Career and Technical Education and Workforce Development and Investing in the Future Workforce. Together these reports explore numerous aspects of CTE programs in Missouri and address the following questions:
- How is the current state of Missouri’s workforce affecting its economy?
- Are the priorities and practices of Missouri’s CTE programs aligned with what employers in the state say they need?
- What can Missouri learn from other states that have been successful in bolstering their workforces though CTE?
- What incentives can the state give educators to encourage them to help students earn the credentials that employers value?
To read the full reports, click on the links below.