Career exploration from policy to practice : a qualitative study on the influence of advisory committees on education outcomes and future employment outlook.

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Economic analysts project an increase in future employment opportunities for U.S. workers. They also predict the U.S. workforce will be ill-equipped to take advantage of the new opportunities (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018). The anticipated educated-worker shortage is a national issue that requires federal resources and collective, comprehensive interventions. In recent years, Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs emerged as a promising opportunity to prepare young people to meet future employment demands. To address the growing educated worker gap, Congress authorized additional federal funding to increase CTE opportunities. The legislation also mandated advisory committees’ involvement to ensure CTE programs include academic rigor and work-based learning experiences. While federal law requires the formation and use of advisory committees to aid in the implementation of CTE programs, assessing the implementation fidelity of such programs can determine the real impact of CTE and determine whether these programs can be relied on to reduce the educated worker shortage (Hudson et al., 2019). This multiple case qualitative research study explored advisory committees’ role in the ongoing administration of CTE programs and examined their perceived roles regarding those programs and their outcomes. The literature emphasized in this study included the need for a skilled, better-educated workforce, a discussion of the historical perspective of education, an assessment of the effectiveness of current career exploration efforts, a review of advisory committee involvement, and finally, the argument for studying implementation fidelity of CTE programs. The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with 15 participants from four Central Texas school districts. The researcher used the implementation fidelity theoretical framework to identify the following shared themes that emerged across the four cases: strong community support and advisory committee involvement are essential to CTE programs’ success; the need for improved program alignment to address the local community’s workforce needs; and opportunities to explore innovative solutions to the increasing demand for qualified CTE instructors. These findings offer empirical evidence to support implementation fidelity as a program prerequisite, legislation to address pay inequality for qualified instructors, and the need for administrators to evaluate advisory committee’s design to improve member engagement.

Career and technical education. CTE. Future employment opportunities. Work-based learning. Implementation fidelity.