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Pandemic Highlights Vital Role of Career and Technical Ed

Many workers on the front lines of the COVID pandemic are Career and Technical Education graduates. (Syda Productions/Adobe Stock)
Many workers on the front lines of the COVID pandemic are Career and Technical Education graduates. (Syda Productions/Adobe Stock)
September 29, 2020

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- During the pandemic, frontline workers have shown the importance of career and technical education, and a new report outlines how Pennsylvania can become a national leader in the field.

While school closures and remote learning are challenging for all students, the impact on the kind of hands-on training offered at Career and Technical Education Centers can be huge. Kari King is president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. She said by increasing state funding, adopting best practices from other states and improving data collection and analysis, the Keystone State can make sure students will get what they need to aid in the post-pandemic economic recovery.

"There's no greater return on investment than the school-to-workforce pipeline, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when so many front-line workers in health care or distribution and logistics are actually CTE graduates," King said.

The report, called "Career and Technical Education: Setting the Standard in Pennsylvania," says the first step is to ensure sustained investments in CTE in the state education budget.

The report also looked at how CTE is structured in other states. King noted while there are many different approaches to providing training and the funding for it, no state is doing a comprehensive job.

"But what we did find is that there are customized approaches by states that we think it's worthwhile for Pennsylvania to consider -- things like specific populations, so trying to get middle schoolers engaged in career planning and if they'd want to go into a CTE pathway."

She added that some states have focused on funding CTE in high-poverty areas and in juvenile justice settings.

King said PA Schools Work, the coalition that authored the report, is urging state lawmakers to consider a $10 million increase in funding for CTE in the next state budget.

"It should be noted our state budget is just around $34 billion, so proportionately the investment there in exchange for preparing students for a 21st-century workforce and economy, it just shows the benefits," she said.

Disclosure: Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA