The Answer Is… What Is CTE?

February is CTE Month®, a month dedicated to spreading awareness of Career and Technical Education (CTE) and its role in creating an educated and skilled workforce who are prepared for in-demand careers. As the due date for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state plans draws closer (April 1, 2016), CTE is a topic on many state’s WIOA agendas.

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 is one of the 11 optional programs that can be included as part of a Combined State Plan for WIOA implementation. However, CTE must be addressed in Unified State Plans as well: Every state must describe how the six core programs will “align and coordinate” with CTE programs and activities currently in place and how the state will partner with CTE going forward (“Implementing FAQs”).

CTE is a vital part of education and career pathways for current and future generations in the workforce. CTE programs emphasize the integration of education and on-the-job training, with the end goal of the participant not only receiving a high school diploma, but also earning a post-secondary credential for in-demand career skills. CTE is organized into 16 Career Clusters® that offer specialized, streamlined instruction for following more than 79 Career Pathways. By offering stackable credentials, CTE programs ensure that students are not duplicating previous coursework but instead are earning certification and valuable experience that builds toward a post-secondary credential. These credentials incorporate work-based learning through internships and apprenticeships so students receive on-the-job training that prepares them for their future careers.

CTE Career Clusters

Did you know America’s JobLink (AJL) can help you track CTE providers and performance measures? When registering as a new training provider in the ProviderLink (Eligible Training Provider list) section of AJL, the school/institution can be identified as a “Public Community/Technical School/College” or “Private Career School/College,” which helps to identify CTE providers. Providers can enter their performance data for individual programs, while the public can search for and view provider information including program offerings and  provider Consumer Report Cards. Workforce center staff can add services/training from CTE providers to client records in ServiceLink and pull reports by school. If you have any questions about how to use this functionality, don’t hesitate to contact us (Brooke Patterson,

As your state prepares to submit its final WIOA implementation plan, you can learn more about CTE and its integration with WIOA through the following resources:

If you have any comments or questions about CTE and WIOA or have been involved in CTE programs yourself as a student, teacher, or administrator, please let us know; we’d love to hear from you.

Asking the Right Questions: Brainstorming a Social Media Plan

According to a 2015 report from the Pew Research Center, 79% of Americans who looked for jobs in the past two years used online resources. Of the nearly two-thirds of Americans who use social media, 35% used social media to find jobs and network. To most fully engage job seekers and employers, workforce organizations should be utilizing social media.

Within the workforce industry, a primary goal of social media is to offer engaging, helpful resources for staff, job seekers and employers, and other workforce organizations. Social media tools are an important element not only of establishing your organization’s professional online presence but also of promoting communication about services, resources, and events internally and externally with staff, current and future clients, and industry colleagues.

If your organization wants to develop or improve their social media presence, you need to develop a social media plan that outlines how to successfully engage with this medium. When you sit down to brainstorm where your organization wants to go with social media, try answering the classic reporter’s questions: Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why?


  • Who is our audience? Who will be responsible for administering our social media program?
  • When is the best time to post?
  • Where should we post?
  • What do we want to achieve?
  • How will we generate content? How will we set and maintain standards of use?
  • Why are we succeeding or failing?

Who, When, and Where

You can begin your social media plan by looking at who your audience is (or will be). Scope out the social media profiles of your peers (such as other workforce agencies) to see how you stack up.What are they doing well? Where are their gaps? Who follows them? As you establish a follower base, use the built-in analytics tools of social media platforms to identify basic follower demographics and user trends (read more about analytics here), such as the age of your followers and the best time of the day or week to post. When choosing where to post (which social media platforms to join or focus on), consider the opportunities and limitations that each social media platform holds for you. For example, Instagram is a primarily visual platform, so you will need someone to consistently post images from the workplace and/or stock photos that match your messages.

What, How, and Why

The next step is clarifying your vision: what do you want to achieve with social media and who do you want to reach with it? Better yet, how do you plan on achieving those goals? For each group of audience members—such as job seekers, employers, or workforce staff—identify engagement strategies. Create measurable goals, such as how many posts per week to achieve, how many followers you hope to gain, and how to create staff engagement.

Like any powerful tool, social media should be used responsibly. Don’t bog your plan down with “don’ts”, but do include a social media policy that outlines the standards and expectations of your online presence. Because we are a division of the Kansas Department of Commerce, our policy borrows some language from the social media policy of the State of Kansas. (Read our upcoming post on creating a social media policy to view ours.) If you refer to policies online from other companies or articles, remember always to give credit for any word-for-word material you use, though it is good practice to give credit for paraphrased material as well.

Ever heard the phrase, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”? To help avoid this fate, make sure your plan clearly defines responsibilities for achieving your social media goals. We have a social media manager, administrator, and analyst: the manager handles the majority of the content and day-to-day responsibilities; the administrator monitors and approves content and responds to followers as needed; and the analyst provides reports on user traffic and analytics. These responsibilities can be rolled into one position if necessary, but it’s always good to have another pair of eyes approving content whenever possible. The plan should also set a time for your social media team to reconvene and assess how well the plan has been implemented. Be prepared to adjust strategies based on what has been working well and what hasn’t.

We hope this article provides you with some handy tips for developing your organization’s social media strategy. Look for an upcoming post on how to create a social media policy. Until then, feel free to check out our social media board on Pinterest for more ideas and best practices, link to your own social media plan or profiles, point us to resources you’ve found helpful, or ask a question. And remember, we can customize your JobLink home page to connect to your social media accounts!

Kansas City: Home to Blues, BBQ, Baseball … and the AJLA Spring Meeting

Registration is now open for the 2016 America’s Job Link Alliance (AJLA) Spring Meeting in Kansas City, MO, March 29–April 1. Please visit our Events page for details including the draft agenda, hotel reservation information, and online registration form.
Spring Meeting March 29-April 1Wondering what AJLA meetings are all about? These meetings offer a professional development, networking, and training opportunity for any workforce professional. They provide a regular forum for AJLA Steering Committee members to discuss product enhancements submitted by customers. The program always includes plenty of opportunities to:

  • Learn more about the Alliance and its cutting-edge IT systems;
  • Exchange best practices with peers from across the country; and
  • Hear presentations from local and national subject matter experts on the latest topics in workforce development.

The Spring Meeting is held in the Kansas City area, giving customers and prospective customers the chance to connect with many of the AJLA–TS staff. In today’s virtual world, who doesn’t love some face-to-face interaction? In fact, why not discuss your product enhancement ideas over some of KC’s famous BBQ? The deadline to book your room at the AJLA preferred rate at the Intercontinental Hotel is Monday, February 29. Don’t miss out!