Sweeping legislation reforms career and technical education
DES MOINES – Sweeping legislation signed into law today by Gov. Terry Branstad raises the quality of career and technical education (CTE) programs in the state and sets a new vision for students to graduate from high school ready for college or career training and jobs.
The legislation, House File 2392, builds upon the recommendations released this past fall by the Secondary Career and Technical Education Task Force and marks the first major revision to CTE policy in Iowa since 1989.
Formerly known as vocational education, CTE consists of programs that integrate technical and academic skills with work-based learning experiences to better prepare students to succeed after high school, whether that be in the workforce or in postsecondary education. In Iowa, CTE programs prepare students for a wide range of careers, including agriculture, computer science, advanced manufacturing, engineering and culinary arts.
“The goal of CTE programs has changed dramatically over the past two decades,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise. “Technological change and globalization are changing the state’s economy and the jobs being created today require higher skills levels than in the past. This legislation sets the bar for CTE programs to ensure students gain the knowledge and skills to succeed in both college and careers.”
The legislation raises the quality of CTE programs in Iowa by:
- Aligning the needs of students, employers and the state’s economy.
- Engraining career guidance into a student’s educational experience so he or she can make informed decisions about future postsecondary and career plans.
- Introducing exploratory coursework earlier to better prepare students for transitory and ultimately higher-level, specialized academic and technical training.
- Expanding student access to coordinated work-based learning opportunities.
- Improving access to high-quality CTE programs for students across Iowa as regional partnerships create an expanded statewide system of regional centers.
This CTE reform initiative, which focuses on middle and high school students, is in line with the Future Ready Iowa initiative launched by Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds last fall. The initiative focuses on ways to continue building Iowa’s talent pipeline and close the skills gap so that more Iowans have quality career opportunities and employers have the skilled workforce they need. This legislation will help achieve the Future Ready Iowa goal that 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce have education and training beyond high school by 2025.
“Employers and industry experts will be more engaged in CTE program design, regional centers will provide increased access to high-quality programs for students, and expanded opportunities will be available for educators to obtain advanced training,” Wise said. “Ultimately, the objective is to ensure students graduate from Iowa high schools with the academic, technical and employability skills they need to succeed in postsecondary education and the workforce.”