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Re-Thinking the Importance of Industry Partnerships in Career and Technical Education

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 -- Shannan LaMalfa

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) national conference, CareerTech Vision 2016, in Las Vegas. I attended with the goal of gleaning new insights on Career and Technical Education (CTE) program and design and implementation, as CTE has been an area of growing focus for us at Edmentum. We’ve worked hard to expand our CTE library over the past couple of years and now offer over 160 semesters of these courses. But, online curriculum is far from the only component of a successful CTE initiative, and it’s our priority to answer our customers’ questions and provide meaningful support as you work to build effective, holistic programs. This takes careful planning by many dedicated educators, collaboration with curriculum providers, as well as high-quality ongoing training.

During my time at the conference, I attended an amazing session presented by Brett Pawlowski, Executive Vice President of the National Center for College & Career Transitions (NC3T), that particularly stood out to me. If you are not familiar with this organization I highly recommend you check them out. I was extremely impressed with the presentation and resources they provide. Their vision is, “Every learner will have a dream and a plan, and every community will have a capable and ready workforce.”

Mr. Pawlowski’s presentation made me wish I could go back and have a “do-over” as a school district administrator. The saying “You don’t know what you don’t know” comes to mind. I mean, the school districts where I led had some good CTE programs, but these ideas would’ve made us great! I kept thinking to myself, “I wish I had known that” and “I should’ve thought of that.” My days in the classroom may be over, but as the leader of Edmentum’s Courseware product line, I’m excited to get to share with educators like you who do have the opportunity to implement these great ideas.

Here are some of the key take-aways I left the session with:

  • NC3T defines a partnership as “Educators and business people working together toward a shared goal designed to benefit students while at the same time, achieving goals unique to each partner.”
  • Partnerships between districts and business are essential. Of course, I knew this, but the different types of relationships, their various purposes, and the different benefits to both sides became apparent.
  • Programming cannot be planned alone. It truly does “take a village.” It requires collaborative efforts, and much thought before it begins.
  • There are many ways to build partnerships. Just a few examples include mentoring, work-place experience, guest speaking in classrooms, sharing resources, and simply facilitating educator awareness of industry and business awareness of education.
  • Starting a CTE program does not require re-inventing the wheel. The number of case studies out there is amazing, and there are so many good ideas. Organizations like NC3T have already completed data-driven research and case studies that can help all of us understand the many methods and strategies there are for building sustainable partnerships. 
  • Partnerships can serve as a morale booster for employees in industry, while also improving student engagement and decreasing dropout rates.
  • Building strong and sustainable business partnerships is key to CTE program success. This should always include shared understanding of what the partnership is and the benefits it brings to both sides.

For more strategies to leverage partnerships with business to grow and enrich your CTE program, I highly suggest exploring the NC3T website and their resources. Interested in learning more about how Edmentum’s online courseware can support your CTE initiative? Check out our complete course catalog here!