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

  • 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 SAFETY SCHOLARSHIP ACT Draft

    Student Safety Scholarship Act (1) PURPOSE.  The Student Safety Scholarship Program is established to provide the parent of a public school student who was subjected to an incident listed in subsection (3) an opportunity to transfer the student to another public school or to request a scholarship for the …

  • 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 …

  • AMENDMENTS TO FORMING OPEN AND ROBUST UNIVERSITY MINDS (FORUM) ACT Draft

    Amendments to Forming Open and Robust University Minds (Forum) Act WHEREAS, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the _____ Constitution protect the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of association and to petition the Government for all citizens.

  • AMENDMENTS TO SCHOOL TURNAROUND AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT ACT Draft

    School Turnaround Act General Description: This bill enacts and amends provisions related to public education. Highlighted Provisions: This bill: defines terms; requires the State Department of Education to designate schools in need of intervention; requires a Local Educational Agency (LEA) to take certain actions to turn around a …

+ 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, …