From USA Today: Four-year college isn’t only path to career readiness

January 21st, 2016

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Council of Chief State School Officers have announced a $75 million initiative to support career and technical education and career readiness.

The initiative has two components:

  • $35 million in grants that will be provided to states to help them increase their focus on career readiness and creation of new career pathway programs, particularly for disadvantaged youth; and
  • Additional funds to be targeted to cities and school districts to develop “global innovation sites” that create promising approaches to increasing the number of students in CTE programs that link to postsecondary education and industry credentials.

Read more about the new initiative here.

As part of the announcement, USA Today published a column on the importance of expanding career and technical education opportunities by JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon and University of Maryland, Baltimore County, President Freeman Hrabowski.

Here are some excerpts:

As president of one of America’s leading educational institutions and CEO of one of the world’s largest financial firms, we see the world through two very different lenses.

But there is one challenge that we both see clearly and are deeply concerned about: too many young people are not on a path to meaningful employment that will enable them to join the middle class. We see it when students drop out of school and struggle to obtain even a minimum wage job. And we see it when well-paying technical jobs go unfilled because applicants don’t have the necessary skills.

Millions of Americans have come to appreciate the value of four-year college degrees. These degrees remain as important as ever. Yet just over half of high school graduates who go on to four-year colleges end up completing a bachelor’s degree within six years. Young people of color and those who come from low-income families fare even worse…

…first, we want to transform how states and cities develop career-focused education programs.  JPMorgan Chase, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium are launching a multi-million dollar competition for states to expand access to career-pathway programs that can lead to high-skill, well-paying jobs…

…Second, we need to eliminate the stigma attached to career and technical education. Classes dedicated to robotics, medical science and coding provide skills that employers desperately need. From Detroit to Baltimore to New Orleans, we need to make greater investments in developing new and effective models of career-focused education aligned with the needs of emerging industries like healthcare, logistics, finance and construction.

Recent education reforms are making progress. But this will not solve the problem for young people who are not going to college immediately after high school. Now is the time for greater private and public focus on equipping young people, at all income levels, with the skills and experiences to be career-ready.  Without this, a shot at the middle class will continue to be out of reach.

Read the whole column.

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