Building Paths to the Middle Class: Innovations in Career and Technical Education

There is currently more focus than ever on the importance of earning a college degree. At the same time, many students and parents are dubious that America’s expensive one-size-fits-all higher education system can adequately educate students for an ever more diverse and sophisticated world of work. We commissioned four case studies on high-quality occupational training programs at US schools that strive to equip students with marketable job skills and prepare them for the world of work. These case studies of high schools and institutes of higher learning are examples of interesting attempts to align education with the demands of today’s labor market. But while they appear to have positive effects on those who take advantage of them, options like these are few and far between. Students often don’t know they exist, and even fewer students actually participate. We hope these studies inform practitioners who might consider offering similar programs in the future.

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