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

  • The Public School Financial Transparency Act Final

    The Public School Financial Transparency Act Summary The Public School Financial Transparency Act would require each local education provider in the state to create and maintain a searchable expenditure and revenue Web site database that includes detailed data of revenues and expenditures. It also would require …

  • Defined-Contribution Pension Reform Act Final

    Defined-Contribution Pension Reform Act Intent Section   The Legislature finds that the defined-benefit model of retirement benefits for state and municipal employees is not fiscally sustainable. It is the intent of the Legislature, therefore, to direct the [state retirement board] to create and maintain a defined-contribution program in which …

  • Informed Student Document Act Sunset Review

    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 …

  • The Collegiate Learning Assessment Act Sunset Review

    The Collegiate Learning Assessment Act Summary This model policy requires public colleges and universities to administer the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) to all students during their freshman and senior years. The schools would also be required to publish the results, broken down by academic majors.

  • Student Data Accessibility, Transparency, and Accountability Act Sunset Review

    Student Data Accessibility, Transparency, and Accountability Act Summary The Student Data Accessibility, Transparency, and Accountability Act would require the [State Board of Education/State Department of Education] to make publicly available an inventory and index of all data elements with definitions of individual student data fields …

  • Honest Transcript Act Sunset Review

    Honest Transcript Act Summary The Honest Transcript Act looks to correct grade inflation by requiring all public colleges and universities to include on student transcripts—alongside the individual grade the student received for each class—the average grade given by the professor for the entire class. This …

+ 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, …