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Five Regional Actions to Enhance CTE Programs


Results from a Multi College Regional CTE Stakeholder Assessment identified five areas for Immediate Collaborative Action - see below! First, a few words about our jargon.

“Multi College Regional CTE Stakeholder Assessment” = Five CTC’s with robust CTE programs serving the same large urban area seeking efficiencies by conducting a joint  stakeholder assessment because of strong overlaps in student populations, job markets, and industry stakeholders. Beyond looking for efficiencies, the practice of a regional stakeholder assessment in itself is an efficiency.

“Immediate Collaborative Action”  = Project data (collected from stakeholders via surveys & interviews) revealed over 100 specific actions a college CTE program can take to enhance its ability to provide accessible, affordable, and high quality CTE pathways that lead to strong employment in local job markets. These 100-plus actions were evaluated through several lenses: 1) level of control by program personnel, 2) level of required time and resources, and 3) commonality of action across the participating CTE programs.

By combining and refining the large set of actions emerging from the project data, the following five action areas were developed as those offering strong opportunity for desired impact. These action areas are:

  1. Organizational Culture

All participating college CTE programs experience common challenges such as adequacy of resources, procedural barriers, mistrust of change, insufficient audience connections, complexity-driven confusion, obstacles to situational awareness, embedded legacy assumptions and values, and struggles to define and convey value propositions to key stakeholders. Each of these challenges contribute to obstacles for CTE programs to pursue and achieve their mission. Because of the institutional and situational similarities among the participating colleges, common solutions are likely applicable broadly and could be efficiently developed and deployed regionally.

  1. Community Relationships

Project data highlights two conditions affecting these participating colleges: First is that CTE programs' efforts to engage certain communities are often less effective than their potential; and second, while causes for diminished community connections are complex, they are surprisingly common among these colleges. Examples of the complex-yet-common causes include each program having a wide spectrum of diverse community audiences, perceived and real internal restrictions to engagement, rigid role adherence and performance, and bureaucratic numbness and blind spots. Similar to the previous action area, the likelihood of solutions being relevant to all participating colleges supports the use of a regional action.

  1. Students

Every college CTE program benefits from a sustainable supply of adequately prepared students who are motivated by career aspirations. The quality of instruction, learning, employment outcomes, and faculty job satisfaction all increase when students are interested, informed, and engaged. There are many replicable and scalable solutions in the area that are within the influence of all participating CTE programs.

  1. Industry Partners

Industry professionals and employers are a unique stakeholder audience whose relationship with college CTE programs is essential. According to some federal and state definitions, industry partner engagement is required for all college CTE programs. Industry partners can (and many do) engage with these CTE programs through structures like advisory committees, work-place learning opportunities, guest speaking events, mock interview sessions, professional networking, and hiring events. Project data offered a large number of suggested actions: most focused on incremental upgrades, others defined significant redesign and new structures. Both approaches, big and small, have relevance to, and appear to be mostly within the control of, these college CTE programs. Regional guidance on this action area would like produce scalable and replicable solutions.

5. Enrollment Partners

There are several types of partners who serve as enrollment conduits to college CTE programs: CBOs, government agencies, and K12 systems. Engagement of these diverse partners requires specific strategies; however, these strategies can be shared and jointly implemented by these colleges. Due to the intentional oversampling of K12 stakeholders in this project, the majority of emergent actions in this area focus on K12 partners. As with the industry partners area above, regional action to help college CTE program enhance their engagement with transfer partners would likely produce effective and replicable solutions.