The Pain and Promise of Change

By Brett Pawlowski

Looking online recently, I saw an image of a warning sign that read as follows:

DANGER: DO NOT TOUCH

Not only will this kill you,

but it will hurt the whole

time you are dying

While this sign may or may not have been mocked up for humorous effect, it reflects how many of us feel about the prospect of change. And not without cause: We probably all bear the scars of changes we weren’t fully prepared for, or worse, scars from “change management” efforts that went awry.

Why is this relevant? Because CTE is now awash in a sea of change. These changes are almost universally positive: Business and political leaders are realizing the value of CTE and their essential connection to workforce systems, and this is driving funding decisions (like JPMorgan Chase’s recent investment in the field), policy efforts (like WIOA federally, and countless efforts at the state level), and the push towards college and career pathways (where CTE should be a primary and driving force).

But even though the changes are positive, that doesn’t mean that they don’t offer the threat of danger and pain. Failing to meet the expectations of funders, industry partners, and policymakers can bring disappointment, diminished support, or even increased oversight. And most importantly, these changes offer a real opportunity to improve the future lives of students, and no one in education wants to be responsible for shortchanging them.

That’s why the National Center for College & Career Transitions (NC3T) was founded: To help secondary and postsecondary educators, industry partners, and community leaders successfully navigate the changing landscape and build quality CTE and pathways models that serve students and all other stakeholders.

The mission of the National Center for College & Career Transitions (NC3T) is for “every learner to have a dream and a plan, and every community to have a capable, ready workforce.” We support schools, districts, CTE offices and other stakeholders in the following areas:

  • Pathways System Design and Development – NC3T provides coaching for the design and implementation of college and career pathways. Our proven planning process and Pathways Design Specifications guide community leadership teams as they create pathways that help students transition from high school to postsecondary education/training to the skilled workforce.
  • Building Statewide Pathways Networks – NC3T manages state-level networks in Pennsylvania and Indiana to build awareness of, and engagement with, college and career pathways efforts, and is actively looking for additional states to support through its Pathways Innovation Network (PIN) model.
  • Employer Engagement Tools and Training – Businesses and schools need to connect; NC3T’s resources, workshops, and coaching make that happen by bringing everyone to the table.
  • Program Improvement Review – Using program quality criteria, NC3T professionals provide a structured process for reviewing and enhancing the quality of CTE and STEM programs.

So, when you or your organization are ready for change, NC3T is prepared to help!