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10 Ideas to Strengthen a CTE Program


Here are ten ideas developed from a stakeholder assessment designed to strengthen a community college CTE (Career and Technical Education) program. Two goals motivate our sharing these ideas:

  1. Perhaps one or more of these ideas will help a CTE leader improve their program.   
    While these ideas emerged from a discrete set of data from an assessment for a specific college, the insights seem applicable to any college committed to responding to stakeholder needs.
  2. Illustrate the depth of insight a stakeholder assessment can (and should) produce.  
    We strongly encourage all CTE programs to engage their stakeholders in regular and meaningful ways.

Three criteria guided the construction of these ideas. Ideas should be:

  1. Doable - Mostly within the control of the college's CTE leadership
  2. Responsive - Germane to projects stated goals (every project is different)
  3. Reflective - Grounded in the stakeholder data

Each idea includes three aspects (see below: what, why, and how). In this post, these details are curtailed, contact us for more information if you're interested:

  1. What - A summary description of an action to beneficially shape the future of a CTE program
  2. Why - Explanation of the importance or potential impact of the described action
  3. How - Description of steps to bring the idea to fruition

Generalized results: ten ideas to strengthen a CTE program:

  1. Integrate Work with Educational Pathways 
    Incorporate information about, exposure to, and practical experiences with work, workplaces, and employers in key aspects of educational pathways including recruitment, instructional design, internships, and post-graduation networking.
  2. Innovate Solutions to Program Capacity Limitations 
    Assess and implement sustainable solutions to the causes, conditions, and contributing factors that result in certain CTE programs chronically experiencing limited capacities to enroll more students, support more students completing their programs, and more graduates finding program-aligned employment.
  3. Pursue Emic Understanding of Barriers to a College Education 
    Collect data, insights, and assess individual experiences with persisting barriers some students encounter in accessing college, maintaining enrollment through completion, and finding employment in a program-aligned occupation.
  4. Strengthen Value Propositions of all Pathways (make the value obvious)
    For each CTE program, develop, evaluate, and improve accurate and compelling value propositions for specific student, employer, and partner audiences.
  5. Engage Discontinued CTE Students 
    Reach out to previously enrolled CTE students who have not completed their programs to understand the cause of their discontinuation and offer them a pathway back to completion.
  6. Build Long-term Relationships with Alumni 
    Build sustainable and effective strategies to connect with alumni of CTE programs on a regular basis that provides multiple values to alumni, current students, aligned employers, and the college.
  7. Simplify Connections Among External Partners 
    Make it easy, convenient, and consistently successful for external partners to know why and how to connect with relevant CTE programs and offices.
  8. Expand Utilization of Advisory Committees 
    Inventory existing and innovate new processes to harness latent value residing in the advisory committees of the various CTE programs.
  9. Be the Solution to (Certain) Partners' Challenges 
    Match strategic needs of key internal & external partners for which the CTE program can apply its resources in mutually beneficial ways.
  10. Engage Students Where They Are 
    Develop and sustainably deploy strategies to deliver college services on-location near where potential and current students are located.