Career Pathways

Preparing tomorrow's workforce: Afterschool and summer programs partner across communities to introduce students to their passions, develop their employability skills and set them on pathways into 21st Century careers.

Today’s economy offers enormous opportunity, but distributed mainly to the well-prepared. Tomorrow’s economy will be even more skewed and those underserved in our education systems are at the greatest threat of being left behind.

Georgetown’s Center for Education and the Workforce anticipates that by 2020:

  • 35% of jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or higher[1]
  • 30% will require some education beyond high school including associate’s degrees
  • 36% will not require more than a high school diploma

Afterschool and summer learning are supporting and in some cases leading the way in the preparation of tomorrow’s workforce and future innovators. When out of school, students have the space, flexibility, and time to develop their interests, build skills in team work, communication, problem solving that employers of all stripes have come to value. Through activities and experiences such as competency based learning, hands-on STEM, mentorships, site-visits and apprenticeships, afterschool and summer programs are becoming an essential piece in re-envisioning career pathways for school aged youth.

Federal Legislation

Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006

Many high school and middle schools support career preparation programs with CTE Perkins funds. Today’s programs are expected to provide students with pathways ending in technical skill proficiency, an industry recognized credential, a certificate or an associate’s degree as well as with experiences or education in applied learning and general employability skills. School districts receive funds mostly by formula and must choose at least one path of study to offer and meet annual performance levels to receive funds.

Recent Funding for CTE State Grants in millions (85% of these allocated to states by formula)

FY 2015:

$1.118 Billion

FY 2016:

$1.118 Billion

FY 2017:

$1.118 Billion

FY 2018:

$1.193 Billion


Purposes of the Current Law:

  • Build high standards to prepare students with the skills for jobs/professions, especially high skill, high demand, high wage careers
  • Integrate the career training with pathways for postsecondary education
  • Allow states and localities flexibility to design services to meet their needs
  • Conduct national research and provide technical assistance to states and localities
  • Support partnerships among education, business, government and intermediaries
  • Provide individuals lifelong opportunities for training to keep the U.S. competitive

Learn about CTE in your state (including your state director, and stats in enrollment, funding, career clusters and indicators):

Federal ACTION:

Perkins CTE has been due for reauthorization since 2012. Current law dates from 2006 and much has changed in the last 12 years. The Afterschool Alliance is excited to see bipartisan movement toward more effective, coordinated CTE Perkins program. Reauthorization suggestions include constructing open pathways that lead to credentials and higher education opportunities rather than forcing a choice between one or the other, expanding partnerships, innovating and paying attention to employability skills, career pathways and underrepresented groups.

115th Congress: On May 4th, 2017 the House Educaiton and Workforce Committee released H.R. 2353 sponsored by Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) to reauthorize CTE with the Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act. The bill mainly mirrored the (H.R. 5587) bill from the 114th Congress.

H.R. 2353 passed unamimously through the House Committee on May 17th and passed the full house by voice vote on June 22, 2017. The Senate must take up consideration of reauthorization legislation for the process to move forward.

On June 27, 2018 the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee offered a Bipartisan Chairman's Amendment . This Senate version of a CTE reauthorization bill passed out of committee by unanimous voice vote. The next step would be action by the full Senate.

114th Congress: On June 28th, 2016 the House Education and Workforce Committee released a bipartisan bill "Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century.” Learn more about the bill here. The proposed legislation makes explicit the role community based providers have in supporting student pathways into well-paid, high demand careers. The bill passed the House 405-5 in the 114th Congress but did not pass the Senate.

ESSA includes Workforce in 21st CCLC:

The Every Student Succeed Act (the 2015 reauthorization of ESEA, formerly No Child Left Behind) included a provision in Title IV, part B, the section which designates funds to 21st Century Community Learning Centers to add workforce development/CTE as an allowable activity. The addition is based on the Afterschool and Workforce Development Act, introduced by Senator Baldwin in April 2015.

US Department of Education:

The federal education law, ESSA, which supports K-12 education for low-income students, contains multiple references to career education, including a Title I, Direct Student Services component, which allows states to reserve 3% of their allocated funds for a variety of activities provided by schools, colleges, community based providers and other entities to support student success in fields including CTE and the Title IV B 21st CCLC component mentioned above.

Department of Education Guidance on Gender Equity in CTE

Allied Groups and the Private Sector:

An initiative between JP Morgan Chase and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is providing $100,000 seed grants to 20 states to plan coordinated CTE systems that integrate needs of employers. A pool of 10 states will then be selected to receive $2 million to implement their systems.

More Career and Technical Resources and Information