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Voc-Ed Makes a Comeback

April 16, 2015 Leave a comment

I received the article below (Forbes, 4/16/15, Neil Howe) as a forwarded post from GetREAL California, a group highly invested in growing Career Technical Education in California.

Those of us in the Santa Clarita Valley are fortunate to have a strong Career Tech Collaborative that has been hard at work building our CTE (Career Technical Education) offerings for students of the William S. Hart District and College of the Canyons. I hope you’ll take a moment to review to better understand how critical CTE training programs are to business.

Voc-Ed Makes a Comeback

Neil Howe, Contributor
4/16/2015
Forbes

San Jacinto College, south of Houston, had no choice but to schedule a 10 p.m.-to-2 a.m. welding class. That’s how many students were trying to sign up. According to The New York Times, this uptick in technical enrollment has been caused by a surging demand for young people with specialized technical skills. Once the black sheep of education, voc-ed is gaining favor under a new name: career and technical education (CTE).

This comeback is taking place at community colleges and high schools alike. Businesses themselves also have gotten in on the action, teaming up with school systems to search for a new generation of workers. The building and fixing professions once dominated by G.I.s are getting a second wind as Millennials enter the workforce—giving an extra push to this voc-ed revival.

Over the past decade, voc-ed has undergone an extreme makeover. In the 1980s and early ‘90s, this path was considered the “plan B” alternative for underachievers. In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, when G.I.s and Silent retired in droves, voc-ed was reframed as a way to address the sudden shortage of skilled workers and rebranded as “career and technical education” in 2006 to remove its long-held stigma. From 2002 to 2012, the number of students earning sub-baccalaureate credentials in CTE fields rose 71%, compared to a 54% increase in all undergraduate awards.

This CTE revival is also happening in high schools today, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at official statistics. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the CTE percentage of total credits earned by public high school graduates steadily declined from 18% in 1990 to 13% in 2009. But today’s high schools are embracing CTE in the form of career academies, which aren’t included in these numbers. The number of U.S. career academies has more than doubled (from 2,500 to over 6,000) since 2008. These academies cater to career-bound and college-bound students alike—giving students both technical skills and academic know-how.

With CTE curricula that focus on student engagement, career academies produce phenomenal results. While the national high school graduation rate hovers at 80%, academies under the wing of the National Academy Foundation boasted a 97% graduation rate last year, with 93% of graduates planning to earn at least a technical degree.

In part, this sea change towards CTE is in response to increased skepticism toward the “everyone should go to college” model. Today, only 30% of young Americans actually end up earning a four-year degree. And low-income students, who would benefit the most from a degree, often have the worst outcomes: Fully 99% of college attendees from the top quintile graduate by age 24, while only 21% from the bottom quintile can say the same.

This shift is also buoyed along by economic forces, including the current and projected demand for middle-skilled jobs. According to Brookings researchers Harry Holzer and Robert Lerman, there will be new openings for 1.0 million computer specialists, 1.5 million health care workers, and 4.6 million skilled construction workers over the next decade. And the salaries that accompany these careers are remarkable, in some cases reaching six figures for entry-level positions.

A growing number of companies are partnering with high schools and community colleges to streamline the workforce pipeline. Along the Gulf Coast, energy companies like Fluor have contributed money, advice, and surplus equipment to nearby community colleges that train high-skilled workers. In Nashville, Tennessee, Country Music Television took over “The Academies of Nashville” program, which partners with over 170 local businesses. And Ford’s Next Generation Learning (NGL) initiative established career academies in 20 communities across the United States. These investments are a smart move because, in the words of Ford NGL’s Executive Director Cheryl Carrier, “[through this system] students, teachers, and businesses all win.”

There is a long generational drama behind this voc-ed revival. For the G.I. Generation returning from WWII, voc-ed was a modern and democratic innovation that prepared students for an expanding industrial economy. While many went off to college on the G.I. Bill, they also attended vocational schools to pursue careers in the trades. For Silent and first-wave Boomers, voc-ed continued to be a stepping stone to stable blue-collar jobs.

But for late-wave Boomers and Xers, who entered the job market in the deindustrializing late 1970s and ‘80s, voc-ed became a path to nowhere. The jobs that remained were filled by G.I. and Silent workers. Voc-ed also lost its luster once Boomer “yuppies” began championing schools that would prepare kids for an ideas-producing economy—not so much a goods-producing economy.

Times are now changing. Xer parents see CTE as an opportunity to keep their kids on track by teaching them practical life skills that produce measurable results. If public schools can put their kids on the path to a successful career, with or without the increasingly expensive bachelor’s degree, they’re on board.
The CTE curriculum also resonates with Millennials who crave structure and security. They’ve been taught to plan ahead to the extreme: A 2014 Nickelodeon poll found that 45% of 8- to 11-year-olds worry about finding a job “a great deal/a lot.” These risk-averse achievers view CTE as a safety net that fills the gap between high school and the working world—and that offers a long-term plan for achievement that is guided, monitored, and continuous.

Looking ahead, CTE will become an attractive option as students look for more efficient paths to successful careers. If the idea that “not everyone needs a four-year degree” continues gaining traction, doors may open for even more CTE options, such as for-profit schools. Affordable courses specializing in high-demand skills (like coding) have already launched dedicated students into the middle class. CTE (in its many forms) will continue to appeal to a “maker” generation like Millennials—just as it did for young G.I.s—in search of the American Dream.

For complete article, including embedded hyperlinks:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/neilhowe/2015/04/16/voc-ed-makes-a-comeback/

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Career and Technical Education Should Be the Rule, Not the Exception Gallop by Tim Hodges March 10, 2015

March 16, 2015 1 comment

It’s hard to argue with the success of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, which teach transferable workplace skills and academic content in a hands-on context. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently characterized CTE programs as providing “instruction that is hands-on and engaging, as well as rigorous and relevant.” He went on to say that CTE programs “are helping to connect students with the high-demand science, technology, engineering and math fields — where so many good jobs are waiting.” Furthermore, in recognizing CTE month on the House floor, Rep. James Langevin recently stated, “CTE is an investment in the future of our economy, our workforce and our country.”

Despite these benefits of CTE, only about one in four students (28.6%) earned five or more CTE credits, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Most students have some interaction with CTE during their high school experience, but few are immersing themselves in CTE programs.

One reason why more students are not pursuing CTE programs is that critics characterize it as a track for students who are less likely to attend college. This line of thinking is detrimental to students, employers and the future of our country. Students should no longer need to decide between college readiness and career preparation — it’s possible and increasingly necessary to achieve both.

A recent Gallup-Lumina Poll found that when hiring, U.S. business leaders say candidates’ knowledge and applied skills in a specific field are more important factors than where the candidate went to school or what their major was. To be successful in the workplace, college-bound students still need specific knowledge and skills, which they can get from CTE programs.

Additionally, the Gallup-Purdue Index finds that college graduates who had an internship or job in college where they were able to apply what they were learning in the classroom, who were actively involved in extracurricular activities and organizations, and who worked on projects that took a semester or more to complete, doubled their odds of being engaged at work. Yet, just 6% of college graduates say they had all three of these experiences. These are exactly the types of experiences that CTE programs offer to students.

Critics may argue that enrolling in a CTE program may divert college-bound students’ attention away from college preparation classes. However, a recent study found that 80% of students taking a college preparatory academic curriculum with rigorous CTE met the standard for college and career readiness, compared with 63% of students taking the same academic core without rigorous CTE. Further, while national graduation rates have inched up in recent years, students with a concentration in CTE are nearly 15 percentage points more likely to graduate high school than the national average. These data suggest that whether students take one CTE course or enroll in an entire CTE program, CTE should be a part of every student’s education.

As a student, I was actively involved in a variety of CTE programs. While the experience I gained through livestock judging may not seem like it directly prepared me for my role at Gallup, I often rely upon skills such as:

* working long hours toward a goal

* building relationships with instructors both in and out of the classroom

* keeping accurate records and managing budgets

* fundraising to cover the cost of materials, registration fees and travel

* representing the school or even the state at contests

* the joy of winning and the agony of defeat

* being part of a team

* serving as a mentor and being mentored by others

Regardless of the actual content being taught, these experiences build the transferable skills that lead to success in college and career, while painting a realistic picture of the future students will face in the working world. CTE should not just play a prominent role for a few students; it should be the new normal in education.

Tim Hodges, Ph.D., is Director of Research for Gallup’s Education Practice.

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The Real Reason New College Grads Can’t Get Hired

August 5, 2014 1 comment

I came across this article a few months back and was struck by how critical basic soft skills are to those about to enter the world of work. VIA’s Connecting to Success Program helps get high school students on the right track with those skills, but it is ever more important our students leave school equipped with the “right stuff” to get the jobs they seek!

The Real Reason New College Grads Can’t Get Hired
By Martha C. White Nov. 10, 20130

It’s because college kids today can’t do math, one line of reasoning goes. Or they don’t know science. Or they’re clueless about technology, aside from their myriad social-media profiles. These are all good theories, but the problem with the unemployability of these young adults goes way beyond a lack of STEM skills. As it turns out, they can’t even show up on time in a button-down shirt and organize a team project.

The technical term for navigating a workplace effectively might be soft skills, but employers are facing some hard facts: the entry-level candidates who are on tap to join the ranks of full-time work are clueless about the fundamentals of office life.

A survey by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College finds that more than 60% of employers say applicants lack “communication and interpersonal skills” — a jump of about 10 percentage points in just two years. A wide margin of managers also say today’s applicants can’t think critically and creatively, solve problems or write well.

Another employer survey, this one by staffing company Adecco, turns up similar results. The company says in a statement, “44% of respondents cited soft skills, such as communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration, as the area with the biggest gap.” Only half as many say a lack of technical skills is the pain point.

As much as academics go on about the lack of math and science skills, bosses are more concerned with organizational and interpersonal proficiency. The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed more than 200 employers about their top 10 priorities in new hires. Overwhelmingly, they want candidates who are team players, problem solvers and can plan, organize and prioritize their work. Technical and computer-related know-how placed much further down the list.

Jobs are going unfilled as a result, which hurts companies and employees. The annual global Talent Shortage Survey from ManpowerGroup finds that nearly 1 in 5 employers worldwide can’t fill positions because they can’t find people with soft skills. Specifically, companies say candidates are lacking in motivation, interpersonal skills, appearance, punctuality and flexibility.

(MORE: Black Swan Event: The Beginning of the End of Unpaid Internships)

One thing that does appear to make a difference is internships, according to a Harris Interactive survey of more than 2,000 college students and 1,000 hiring managers on behalf of textbook company Chegg: more than 80% of employers want new grads they hire to have completed a formal internship, but only 8% of students say interning in a field related to their major is something they spend a lot of time doing. Instead, the top extracurricular activities are hanging out with friends, working in an unrelated job and eating out.

And all internships are not created equal. Overall, only about half of college grads say they’re prepared for the workplace — and the number of bosses who think they’re prepared is lower than 40%.

Among students who don’t intern, only 44% consider themselves ready for the job market. That improves for students with unpaid internships; 58% say they’re prepared for the workplace. But among students who complete paid internships, that number jumps to 70%.

Part of the problem is that you don’t know what you don’t know, as the saying goes. Harris Interactive found a huge gap between students’ perceptions of their abilities and managers’ perceptions of those same skills.

None of the students think they’re entirely prepared for the workforce, but they’re a lot more confident than the managers surveyed.

There’s a 22-percentage-point difference between the two groups’ assessment of the students’ financial skills, which Inside Higher Ed calls “alarming,” in an article about the research. Managers also take a much dimmer view of students’ abilities to communicate with authority figures, prioritize and organize their work, manage projects, work in teams and with diverse groups.

It’s just harder to teach these skills, experts say. “It is hard to correct a lifetime of bad habits in a short period of time,” Roderick Nunn, vice chancellor for economic development and workforce solutions at St. Louis Community College, tells the St. Louis Beacon.

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VIA WORKS FOR ME! (By: Anna Frutos-Sanchez)

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

VIA WORKS FOR ME!

It is hard to believe that it is now the end of November, and December will come and go as quickly as the year has.  Time flies when you’re having fun!  That’s exactly how I feel about the work I do for Southern California Edison and the Boards I serve on, especially VIA, a key organization in the Santa Clarita Valley that continuously has educated and provided solutions for business success through our monthly information, education and advocacy.  

When I first joined the VIA Organization and the Board in 2006, it was specifically because of I had heard this was the organization which has existed for over 30 years and has made exceptional contributions to the Santa Clarita Community.  It is an organization with an exceptional reputation, and does not compete with other organizations; it simply has a mission that continuously delivers to its members.

VIA’s Committees  have contributed to my knowledge of this community and have been a very important element of staying informed on legislative updates, environmental issues/concerns, transportation updates, educational programs, etc.  For a company such as Edison, it is key and very important to stay connected and informed, and in particular to stay engaged and be a member of the decision makers in the community… VIA has provided this and more!

2011 has been a very important year for VIA and one that has set the tone for the years to come.  VIA has had its share of economic problems, as have many other organizations and businesses, however, because VIA is comprised of folks who care, who give, and who contribute to the betterment of our Santa Clarita Community, VIA has grown and is strong.  VIA brings forth very successful programs such as the B2B Expo, the Gala, the monthly luncheons, Connecting to Success, and other.  I just want to compliment VIA for making a difference and for staying committed to its mission.

I look forward to VIA’s continued growth and advocacy!  Way to go VIA!

Anna Frutos-Sanchez
Local Public Affairs Region Manager
Southern California Edison

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY VIA!

February 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Some of you may remember parts of this post from a year ago, but I felt compelled to recall part of it.  Today, the Valley Industry Association of Santa Clarita is 30 years old!  Today marks the launch of a year long celebration for the organization and its members, culminating with a special celebration event tentatively scheduled for Friday, October 28.  I hope you will join us in celebrating the successes we have accomplished together.

Incorporated on February 9, 1981, VIA has changed in many ways since its humble beginning.  Originally a group of just 20 companies from the Valencia Industrial Center, VIA was created to push forth critical transportation initiatives.  That group discovered almost immediately that their collective voice was far more successful than each were individually. What an incredible incentive to grow!

And grow we did!  VIA, the fastest growing B2B organization in the Santa Clarita Valley, has moved in many directions over the years, but we have always remained true to our core values.  Our tag line, “Connecting and Building SCV Industry” says it all.  CEO Forums, member surveys, and regular personal contact with our members keep us in touch with pressing issues for business and allow us to continually provide real value to our membership. We have a rich history including VIA BASH events showcasing members and local industry clusters, B2B Industry Shows, Regional Executive Summits, the creation of the Valencia Learning Center (which later became the Employee Training Institute at COC), our annual Luncheon Series, the Website Contest, Connecting to Success, and VIA STAR .

HAPPY BIRTHDAY VIA!  I’m proud to be a part of this strong, vibrant organization and hope all of you will stay tuned for the next 30!

Kathy Norris
CEO/President

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11 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Owners

January 6, 2011 Leave a comment

The following article was recommended and shared with VIA’s blog by:

Laura Biery
Administrative Analyst
Economic Development Division
City of Santa Clarita
Phone: (661) 286-4017
Email: lbiery@santa-clarita.com

11 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Owners

By:  Barry J. Moltz

January 4, 2011

As a small business owner, this is the perfect time of year to reflect on areas of accomplishment or places where desired results were not achieved in 2010. 

Here are 11 resolutions every small business owner needs to make now to get their 2011 off to a fast start:

 1. I will stop complaining about the bad economy

This country is still staggering out of the Great Recession. Face the fact that this is the “new normal”. However, in a $14 trillion U.S. economy, there are definitely more than a few new prospects that can help grow your business this year. While complaining doesn’t help find them, offering solutions to solve their problems does.

2. I will only sell painkillers

During better economic times, customers do buy “vitamins” (i.e. nice to haves). In tough times, find your customers’ pain by surveying them in January and asking where your business can help the most. Focus on selling what customers actually want, not what you think they need.

 3. I will fire the employees that do not increase profit.

Stop holding onto the people that are bad performers, poor fits, or just don’t add to the bottom line. If that employee went on a month long vacation, would the company suffer? Everyone one else knows that the answer is no. Get over the fear and fire them in January.

 4. I will only market to prospects that can actually pay for my product.  

Businesses spend a lot of time trying to sell their products to people that do not have the money to buy. We waste a lot of time on these “Mr. Maybes” (prospects that show inconsistent interest). Separate out the “tire kickers” from the buyers by determining the customer’s budget, decision makers, and timeframe for their purchase. 

 5. I will not lower my price to substitute a real marketing strategy. 

Have the confidence in what your company sells not to lower your price in an effort to win business. Focus on prospects that value the pain your company solves for them. Leave the price wars to your competitors. 

 6. I will meet with customers and vendors face to face. 

Stop relying on email and the phone as an exclusive way to talk with customers. Even in a social media world, deep and long lasting business relationships are still built IRL (In Real Life).

 7. I will attend at least one major industry event. 

A big part of success in business is to never stop learning from others. Don’t cheat at this while actually attending the conference by spending the entire day working on issues that are happening back at the office. 

 8. I will invest in me and learn at least one new skill. 

“Old dogs can learn new tricks.” We invest in training for many of our employees. This is the year to look at becoming proficient in an area where you are bad or very afraid.

 9. I will take time off

Professional and personal lives are merging. Take one vacation of seven days or longer this year without the work computer. Go at least one day this year without using the work cell phone. Yes, you can!

10. I will understand my businesses financial statements each month. 

Many business owners are too busy to check or don’t understand their financial statements. Make a commitment to learn what the profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statements mean to your business and use them as a guide for future action. Do not delegate that understanding to your bookkeeper, CFO or accounting professional.

 11. I will be proud to be a small business owner. 

Celebrate the big achievement of creating a company, helping your customers and employees through it. You are the future of this country.

What New Year’s resolutions do you want to add?

 Barry Moltz gets small business owners unstuck. With decades of entrepreneurial ventures as well as consulting countless other entrepreneurs, he has discovered the formula to get business owners marching forward.

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Volunteering – The Most Enjoyable Way to Network

November 29, 2010 3 comments

Imagine getting your next client or job opportunity from someone you interact with regularly on one of VIA’s Committees. Imagine building long-lasting relationships with other business people who share some of your same interests and passions. Well, it’s quite easy to turn these images or visions into reality! Yes, it will require a little bit of effort and time on your part, but the possibilities are endless.

You might be asking, “How can I make this happen? How I can I create opportunities for myself in 2011?”
Well, quite simply, check the online calendar on the VIA website for meeting dates and times, call the VIA office at 661-294-8088, or ask any one of the VIA Board members who would be more than happy to help you find a volunteer opportunity that matches your interests and skills.

On the flip side, if you’re looking to bring someone into your organization this is a great way to “try someone out” and see what they’re really like to work with or how they follow through on commitments. Remember, volunteering doesn’t come with a salary, so imagine what someone who gets things done while volunteering may actually accomplish when getting paid to do a job.

So, let’s learn from our schools that often times require students to do volunteer work to enhance their education, refine their skills, work with others, and make their community a better place.

There’s a Greek proverb that says “A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under which they will never sit.” We can all help ourselves and VIA flourish by getting involved in one of the many active committees so that we can strengthen our relationships with other business people, grow our own businesses, and ensure VIA remains a “living” organization.

Diana Meyer
Meyer Marketing Intelligence

Categories: Uncategorized