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 2014:


FY 2015:


FY 2016:


FY 2017 (Proposed):



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. The Afterschool Alliance is excited to see bipartisan recommendations from Senators Enzi and Casey for a more effective, coordinated CTE Perkins program. The reauthorization suggestions include constructing open pathways that lead to credentials and higher education opportunities rather than forcing a choice between one or the other.

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.

Other Proposed Federal CTE Legislation:

A CTE Excellence and Equity Act, introduced in March 2016 as an amendment to the current Perkins CTE law, would provide $500 million in grants to schools that would encourage collaboration with workforce and higher education partners. The amendment has support from a bipartisan group of senators including Tim Kaine (D-VA); Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va).

In the House, Representatives Duckworth (D-IL), Costello, Langevin and Thompson introduced an amendment (HR 3964) to the Higher Education Act (HEA) to allow funds for student higher education to be used for programs providing industry recognized credentials. The Senate has an identical bill (S. 2064) introduced by Senator Baldwin.

US Department of Education:

The new administration is just getting started, more to come. Under President Obama, Secretary John King strongly supported CTE. The Department of Education held a  Makeover Challenge which allowed schools to join a CTE Makeover Bootcamp granting 10 schools $20,000 and more in-kind donations to build their makerspaces.

The newly passed 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

CTE Pay for Success Pilot Programs "The Department (of Education) will award a grant to an Intermediary to provide technical assistance for the first two of three phases of a PFS financing model. In phase one, the Intermediary will complete Feasibility Studies in four Local CTE Sites."

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