Amid keen interest in helping students, young adults, and low-wage workers build the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced economy, MDRC is studying a range of programs that feature employer involvement, such as career pathways from high school into college and the workforce, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and sectoral training.
MDRC’s Center for Effective Career and Technical Education spoke with Di Xu, associate professor at the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine, to learn from her research on nondegree credentials: short-term training programs that purport to give students skills highly valued in the labor market.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed inequities in access to and success in career and technical education (CTE). This post summarizes a discussion among teachers and program coordinators about what has changed a year into remote instruction, and about how to make CTE programs more equitable now and when in-person instruction returns.
Recent federal policy supports creating middle-class jobs in the “green economy.” To better understand how community colleges can build programs that provide reliable growth trajectories for students in this field, MDRC talked with two practitioners about the North Carolina Community College System’s 10-year-old “Code Green” initiative.
Career and technical education programs are trying to address challenges faced by disadvantaged students, particularly Black students and other students of color. Access is only part of the path to equity as these programs focus on inclusive workplace environments, meaningful mentorships, and language that emphasizes strengths rather than real or presumed deficits.
Partnering with Young People to Study Persistence and Engagement in the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential Initiative
Participatory research—including members of a group being studied—recognizes that people closest to a problem have unique perspectives and knowledge. MDRC collaborated with a group of youth fellows in the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential project, and found that this approach can lead to better evaluation results.
Unemployed or underemployed parents have trouble paying child support. In the Families Forward Demonstration, child support agencies sought to help parents get better jobs and increase their earnings by teaching job skills needed by local employers. The questions arising from the project may help other agencies evaluate prospective job training partners.
When COVID-19 upended normal operations at STRIVE, a workforce development nonprofit founded in New York, the Center for Applied Behavioral Science at MDRC documented the agency’s real-time innovations that allowed it to continue serving clients during the crisis. Greg Wise, STRIVE’s National Vice President, shared a first-hand account of the transition.
Meeting the Needs of Workers and Employers
Low-wage workers have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing greater levels of unemployment than their higher-wage-earning peers. Training programs that focus on moving workers into skilled jobs in industries with strong local demand could reposition them for 21st-century success.
Career and Technical Education Connects the Dots
The economic recession triggered by the global pandemic has magnified the need for high-quality programs that can help students acquire the skills, training, and postsecondary credentials they need to thrive in the workplace. Here are some programs that studies show improved academic outcomes and increased earnings.