Retiring baby boomers, a technology skills gap, and less career-prepared students are cause for concern in today’s rapidly changing workplace and emerging gig economy. As employers are scrambling to find candidates with the skills they need to fill jobs that didn’t even exist five years ago, it is clear that career technical education (CTE) has not kept pace with today’s workforce demands.
Originally developed to prepare high school students who were unlikely to go on to college for a trade like construction or welding, federal funding for vocational programs—or CTE—in high school passed in 1917, even before public education was required in every state. But more than 100 years later, a growing number of top employers—from Google and Apple, to IBM and Ernst & Young—are desperately trying to fill open positions. We’re facing an estimated 55 million job openings by 2020 without the workforce to fill them.
There is clearly a disconnect between what schools are offering and what employers need, and the skills gap continues to grow as a result. To fix this we need to deliver more career pathways to more students, at an earlier age. We can do this by leveraging innovative technology across a national infrastructure.
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