Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a central part of high school curriculum in the U.S. These courses are designed to prepare students for both college and career by providing them with demonstrable workforce readiness. CTE coursework is centered on 16 “career clusters” and the many CTE pathways within each cluster. Naturally, these pathways are designed to align with specific career opportunities. These careers potentially lead to very different future streams of earnings.
Previous research from the Career & Technical Education Policy Exchange has examined the factors that determine equity and access in CTE participation, including differences in CTE participation by student demographics, differences in CTE participation due to CTE availability across schools or course take-up across groups within the same school, and differences in student characteristics across CTE career clusters.
This project, led by Celeste Carruthers, Shaun Dougherty, Dan Kreisman, Roddy Theobald, Carly Urban, and Jesús Villero, creates a measure of what students in each CTE cluster might expect to earn if they take a job in one of that cluster’s aligned occupations in their home state.
- The authors use this measure of “potential earnings” to ask which students enroll in CTE coursework that leads to high or lower earning among workers in their area.