Skills-based learning will increase students' lifetime earnings, but most states have work to do to better prepare students for technical careers, a new report from The AED Foundation finds. The study, prepared by researchers at the College of William & Mary, details the economic benefits of career technical education (CTE) and suggests ways states can strengthen their CTE programs. Scored against eight best practices in skills training, only five states earned perfect “report cards.”
The new report is a follow-up to a similar The AED Foundation/William & Mary study released last year that shed light on how one industry is being affected by the technical skills gap plaguing the entire U.S. economy. The 2016 study found the shortage of qualified equipment service technicians costs equipment dealers $2.4 billion per year in lost productivity and foregone economic opportunity.
“That lost revenue is money taken off of dealers' bottom lines and out of the pockets of the men and women who already work in our businesses,” said Denny Vander Molen, The AED Foundation chairman and president of Vermeer MidSouth, Inc. “It's lost opportunities and missed chances to pursue new customers and projects. That's investment removed from the supply chain, sending ripples across the entire economy and into every industry.”
As part of its ongoing campaign to address the problem at the federal, state and local level, The AED Foundation commissioned the new analysis of state-level CTE policy, which identified eight “best practices”, including local flexibility, academic integration and employer participation. Assessed against these factors, most states have opportunities to improve the quality and scope of their CTE. For employers looking to take advantage of existing resources, the report also includes a series of 50 state-level “play books,” which identify key points of access to government resources that will help businesses utilize available programs to stimulate development of needed skills.
The research team also illustrated the relative benefits of CTE coursework for students: increased lifetime earnings. Each single non-computer CTE class a student takes can increase their annual salaries by more than $500, which can mean tens of thousands of dollars in additional income over the course of a career.
“We can show students and potential employees how the size of their paycheck depends on the skills on their transcript,” Vander Molen said.
Associated Equipment Distributors President & CEO Brian P. McGuire called on equipment distributors to pick up the ball and use the new resources to advance the CTE conversation at the state and local level. “This is where your participation comes in,” McGuire said.
“Take advantage of these resources. Get involved with the programs and agencies in your state that will help train and prepare our next generation of technicians,” McGuire said. “AED will be the industry's champion on CTE issues at the national level, but dealers need to work in their own communities and state capitals to tackle the problem.”
For more information, visit AEDFoundation.org/dealer-resources.