The world economy affects all of us. Career and technical education (CTE) professionals may rightly ask: What are the trends in new jobs? What is the role of labor market information (LMI) in determining the direction of CTE in Wisconsin? How are our CTE programs moving to meet growing needs?
Fortunately, several resources offer answers. Take a look at WisConomy, for example, a site developed and maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The economic and labor market information found there can help identify local employment trends and growth opportunities for CTE programs. Many CTE instructional leaders have traditionally discussed how data trends can inform program of study decisions, but now, LMI is a critical component in conversations about program improvement with stakeholders and program representatives. An added benefit of WisConomy is that it enables users to create an account through which to build reports and retain LMI on a customizable page.
Discussions of emerging trends that incorporate LMI may also help students and parents understand the world of work by reflecting on labor market needs. LMI provides a ready-made career exploration activity for students working through the Academic and Career Planning process. DWD has recently developed an Educator and Parent Toolkit that is packed with resources to support youth as they:
- Explore the types of jobs that will be available after graduation
- Learn about wages and earning potential
- Determine job skill and education requirements
- Identify where current jobs are located
- Find training opportunities
Finally, as CTE leaders enter the upcoming school year, LMI will likely take on heightened importance as local education agencies (LEAs) prepare to apply for funding through the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education in the 21st Century Act” (Perkins V). Prior to completing the Perkins application, LEAs must conduct a Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment in collaboration with key stakeholders. An online list of industry reports and resources arranged by CTE program area can jumpstart stakeholder conversations. These resources can clarify the knowledge, skills, and habits that employers will be looking for in the future.
CTE leaders are encouraged to attend one of two Perkins V Technical Assistance Workshops being offered in September to help applicants better understand the connections between student data, LMI, and elements of a quality career pathway.
Whether CTE instructional leaders are trying to improve the CTE program, communicate with parents and students as they explore career options, or interact with CTE stakeholders, having readily available information on emerging trends can help drive conversations that lead to greater understanding of the career landscape.
—Submitted by Dave Thomas, Business and Information Technology Education Consultant, Wisconsin FBLA Advisor, Career and Technical Education, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction