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.

Articles

Workforce Development

State of the State: Rhode Island

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Model Policies

  • The A-Plus Literacy Act Final

    Chapters of the A-Plus Literacy Act (1) School and District Report Cards and Grades. (2) School Recognition Program to financially reward schools for good/improving Report Card grades. (3) Opportunity Scholarships to provide alternatives for students in schools with poor Report Card grades. (4) Scholarships for Children …

  • Indiana Education Reform Package Final

    Chapters of the Indiana Education Reform Package (1) Charter Schools Act (2) School Scholarships Act (3) Teacher Evaluations and Licensing Act (4) Teacher Collective Bargaining Act (5) Turnaround Academies Act (6) Early Graduation Scholarship Act (7) Textbooks and Other Curricular Material Act   Chapter 1. Charter Schools Act …

  • Great Teachers and Leaders Act Final

    Section 1. {Legislative declaration.} (A) The Legislature hereby declares that: (1) A system to evaluate the effectiveness of licensed personnel is crucial to improving the quality of education in this state and declares that such a system shall be applicable to all licensed personnel in the …

  • Civil Liability for Employers Hiring Ex-Offenders Act Final

    {Title, enacting clause, etc.} Section 1. {Title.}  This Act may be cited as the “Civil Liability for Employers Hiring Ex-Offenders Act.” Section 2. {Limitations on Liability for Hiring Employee or Independent Contractor Convicted of a Nonviolent, Non-sexual Offense.} (A) A cause of action may not be brought against …

  • Growing Our Workforce Investment Now (Go Win) Act Final

    This Act supports opportunities for employers to invest in the future success of their workforce by providing a tax credit for employed individuals enrolled in training pursuant to Industry Recognized Credentials or completion of a Registered Apprenticeship program.

  • Dual Language Immersion Program Act Final

    This Act creates a pilot program, the Dual Language Immersion Program. It directs the State Board of Education to develop a course taught in one of the “critical languages” (as listed by the federal National Security Language Initiative, including Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Hindi, and Korean), which can be either a traditional course or through digital or interactive course modules. The Board shall notify districts of the course’s availability, and may expand the program to include more course offerings subject to demand and available resources. The Act also funds incentives to 15 qualifying schools for offering pilot programs in Chinese, Spanish, French, and Navajo, as well as a 50-50 English-foreign language instructional model. This policy, after amendments, was approved unanimously.

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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, …