CTE regains stature in community colleges
For years Lynn Shaw has advocated for stronger ties between Career and Technical Education and academics in the community colleges. Throughout her own career, Shaw has lived and breathed both. A one-time miner, steelworker, electrician and longshore worker, Shaw later earned a doctorate in educational policy and teaches in the Electrical Technology program at Long Beach City College.
That’s why Shaw was such a strong appointee to co-chair the Board of Governors Taskforce on Workforce, Job Creation and a Strong Economy.
Focus on CTE
“All of a sudden, CTE is getting a lot of attention and a lot of money,” Shaw said. “It used to be there was Career and Technical Education and there was academics. I’m trying to shift the conversation that CTE is academic. It’s not an ‘either/or’ dichotomy.”
The taskforce launched in November and will spend the next few months gathering information through “Regional College Conversations” with community college practitioners and through five Strong Workforce Town Hall meetings with business, education, labor and elected leaders. Shaw is one of four faculty on the task force, which also includes representatives from business, labor and public agencies involved in workforce training, education policy and community-based organizations.
The goal of the task force is “to increase individual and regional economic competitiveness by providing California’s workforce with relevant skills and quality credentials that match employer needs and fuel a strong economy,” according to the Chancellor’s Office.
Therein lies the rub. The task force will undoubtedly be delving into what community colleges need to do to prepare students for the jobs of the future, and, with the work world changing so fast, the task is more difficult. The findings of the task force is likely to generate legislation that will turn into policy and programs.
“It’s perfect timing. CTE is finally getting its due,” Shaw said. “We’ve come a long way from vocational education, I’ll tell you that.”
In addition, as president of her local faculty union, Shaw brings the union voice to the task force. She is hoping to find common ground with employers who will be creating the jobs of the future.
“I think we can agree we all want a well-trained and a well-paid workforce and employers can’t thrive unless their workers thrive. You have to invest, you have to educate, you have to do something to make it happen,” she said.
Find more information, resources and a schedule of upcoming regional meetings and town halls, at http://doingwhatmatters.cccco.edu/Home.aspx.