Strengthening CTE Opens More Pathways to Success for Students and Employers

By Carol D'Amico

Strada Education Network Executive Vice President, National Engagement and Philanthropy


This week Congress will vote on a bill to reauthorize federal support for career and technical education (CTE). The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353) is a bipartisan effort to elevate these programs in our nation’s schools and community colleges and to better align them with in-demand, skilled jobs.

Coming on the heels of last week’s focus by the Trump Administration to expand apprenticeship programs, it seems that career and technical education is making a welcome comeback that will open more pathways to success for students and employers. And it’s about time.

For too long, we have sent messages to young people that the only way to a bright future and fulfilling life is to attend a traditional college. But new data from the Education Consumer Pulse by Gallup and Strada Education Network seems to challenge that conventional wisdom.

The Education Consumer Pulse is a ground-breaking research platform set to become the nation’s most extensive collection of education consumer insights. Through 350 interviews daily, a representative sample of U.S. adults ages 18-65 are asked about their experiences in postsecondary education.

The first report, released June 1, represented interviews with nearly 100,000 adults and yielded some surprising results:

  • Overall, more than 51 percent of U.S. adults who previously enrolled in or completed postsecondary education say they would change at least one aspect of their education path — major, school or type of degree — if they had to do it all over again.
  • Except for those with graduate-level training, vocational/tech/trade program graduates are least likely to report they would do things differently. This evidence supports the idea that individuals who pursue credentials in these areas are generally satisfied and feel like they’re getting what they wanted from the experience.
  • More than 4 in 5 adults receiving a tech/trade/vocational credential believe they received a high-quality education.

This bill, which was unanimously passed by the Education and the Workforce Committee, presents many timely considerations given what the Education Consumer Pulse reveals about student experiences with CTE programs. We look forward to discussing solutions with policymakers and other partners that continue to elevate quality education experiences and open more pathways to success for all students.

Carol D’Amico is Executive Vice President of National Engagement and Philanthropy for Strada Education Network. She served in the U.S. Department of Education as assistant secretary for adult and vocational education from 2001- 2003 and is a nationally recognized expert in designing and leading strategies related to higher education, workforce development, and business-led involvement in education reform.