Key Points
  • Understand that college is not the only pathway to success; career-readiness can come from four-year universities, associate or community colleges, or vocational training.
  • Improve the K-12 system through competition, innovation, and school choice.
  • Create regulatory space for educational programs that focus on the future employment needs of industries through education savings accounts.
  • Encourage vocational education programs in the K-12 system and beyond.
  • Encourage apprenticeship and certification programs that allow people to learn new trades in a real-world setting.

American businesses are increasingly worried about the quality of the workforce pool from which they will be hiring. Too few American students are graduating high school or college with the skills employers need. And while college is a pathway to career success for many students, it’s far from the only one.

The first link of the problem is, of course, the K-12 system, which all-too-frequently graduates barely-literate students totally unprepared for almost any job. Good vocational education options, which teach students a skill or trade to support themselves after school, are few and far between. The formal public education system has largely supplanted a historical network of apprenticeships, where those just starting out could learn a trade in exchange for work.

But exciting innovations on the horizon could revolutionize the way employers and students alike think about education, career-readiness, and vocational training.

Education savings accounts, which currently operate in five states and allow parents to choose and customize their children’s educational experiences down to the course level, provide an opportunity for businesses to shape or endorse curriculum, training, and certification options that teach the skills they look for in potential employees.

Legislators and regulators should avoid the siren song of “universal” college attendance, and instead work towards an education system that prepares students for successful career paths as varied as they are.

Model Policies

  • Associate Physician Act Draft

    Section 1: Associate Physicians; Licensure; Applications; Rules; Definitions A. An Associate Physician may practice as an Associate Physician as follows: (1) By providing only primary care services and only in medically underserved rural or urban areas of this state; and (2) Under the terms of an Associate …

  • American Civics and History Act Draft

    WHEREAS, the 2020 Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey found that one out of every two Americans cannot name all three branches of government and one in five Americans are unable to name a single right guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; WHEREAS, the 2018 …

  • The Provisional Licenses for Ex-Offenders Act Final

    Section 1. {Provisional License} (A) Notwithstanding any other law and unless the applicant has been convicted of an offense described by Section 2, a licensing authority shall issue to an otherwise qualified applicant who has been convicted of an offense: (1) The license for which the applicant applied; or (2) …

  • Right to Earn a Living Act Final

    Right to Earn a Living Act Summary Among the rights Americans cherish the most are freedoms to pursue a chosen enterprise or profession. Yet of all the rights we deem fundamental, economic liberty has eroded most of all, to the extent that the “right” to receive …

  • The Occupational Licensing Defense Act Final

    Summary: The purpose of this Act is to ensure that an individual may pursue a lawful profession free from unnecessary occupational regulations and protect those against the misuse of occupational regulations that reduce competition and increase prices to consumers. The government should use the least restrictive means of furthering important …

  • Informed Student Document Act Final

    Informed Student Document Act Summary To aid students and their parents, the Informed Student Document Act would publish the following outcomes by which a state’s universities can be compared: “Sticker-price” tuition relative to other institutions Net price, after grants and scholarships, relative to …

+ All Workforce Development Model Policies

Task Forces

Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development

Members of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force believe that economic freedom is the cornerstone of prosperity. The …

Education and Workforce Development

The mission of the ALEC Education and Workforce Development Task Force is to promote excellence in the nation’s educational system, …