The Intersection Webinar Recap: Career and Technical Education Alignment with Local Labor Markets

Career and technical education, or CTE, has been highlighted as a pathway for high school students who might not choose a four-year college or university after graduation. According to the Association for Career & Technical Education, 94 percent of high school students take at least one CTE course in one of 16 Career Clusters, including: 

With such a high percentage of students involved in CTE, one must ask: are these programs preparing students for high-demand jobs? 

Cameron Sublett, Pepperdine University Associate Professor, and David Griffith, Fordham Institute Senior Research and Policy Associate, asked this question as well. Their recent report, “How Aligned is Career and Technical Education to Local Labor Markets?,” looked at three main research questions:

  • To what extent do national CTE course-taking patterns at the high school level reflect the current distribution of jobs across fields and industries?
  • To what extent is CTE course-taking in high school linked to local employment and industry wages?
  • How do patterns of CTE course-taking differ by student race and gender?

With help from the High School Longitudinal Survey (HSLS) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Fordham Institute gathered data regarding CTE course-taking and employment and wages. To connect these data sources, 459 occupations in the BLS classification system were assigned to one of the 16 CTE career clusters. This allowed for a calculation of employment shares and average wages for each cluster to compare the distribution of course-taking to the distribution of jobs.

Learn more from our key takeaways below and the full webinar recording, which was led by David. 

Key Takeaways | How Aligned is Career and Technical Education to Local Labor Markets? 

  • In the United States, half of the jobs are in one of four CTE fields (business management & administration, hospitality & tourism, marketing, and manufacturing). However, when the authors also looked at the top four fields that CTE students choose to concentrate in (information technology, health science, agriculture & natural resources, and architecture & construction), they found that no field was on both lists. 

  • Nationally, students take a disproportionate number of CTE courses in information technology. Only two fields (agriculture & natural resources and arts & communications) have concentration rates that exceed their national employment shares.

  • Students are more likely to take related CTE coursework in fields that support more local jobs but less likely to take related CTE coursework when local industry wages are higher.

  • Female students are more likely to concentrate in Health Science and Human Services, while male students are more likely to concentrate in IT, STEM and Architecture & Construction. White, Black, and Hispanic students exhibit different patterns of CTE concentration. White students are somewhat more likely to concentrate in CTE than Black and Hispanic students.

  • This research led the authors to conclude that the following CTE courses make the most sense: healthcare, manufacturing, construction, business management and administration. Why? Because almost every community has jobs in these fields.
  • The authors made sure to caution that the data used in this study is from students who graduated in 2012, so there could have been changes in CTE alignment since that time. 

Watch the webinar

Save the date for our next Intersection Webinar: June 19, 2019 at 1 p.m. ET. We will be joined by Rebecca Planchard, Senior Early Childhood Policy Advisor, NC Department of Health and Human Services and Mandy Ableidinger, Policy and Practice Leader, NC Early Childhood Foundation. Rebecca and Mandy will highlight the value of collaboration between state agencies and the public in strengthening the creation of the North Carolina Early Childhood Action Plan. They will discuss how they integrated the public into the development process and provide an overview of the Early Childhood Action Plan. Register now. 


See you at The Intersection