Report Says State Can Lead in Career, Tech Education

By Andrea Sears, Public News Service
for The Post

HARRISBURG PA – During the pandemic, frontline workers have shown the importance of career and technical education. 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 (at top) can be huge. Kari King, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, claims the state can ensure students get what they need to help the post-pandemic economic recovery. It should increase state funding, adopt best practices from other states, and improve data collection and analysis, she said.

“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 (career education) graduates,” King said.

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

It also looked at how career education is structured in other states. King noted while there are many different approaches to providing its training and the funding, no state does 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 career education pathway.”

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

King said PA Schools Work, a coalition of organizations that wrote the report, is urging state lawmakers to consider a $10 million increase in funding for career education 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 a Public News Service fund for reporting on Children’s Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, Health Issues.

Photo by Syda Productions via Adobe Stock, provided for use by Public News Service