AIB Approves Blueprint Career and Technical Education Plan

The Blueprint oversight board approved a critical strategic plan to expand Maryland’s career and technical education programs and prepare students for their next steps post-high school.

WelderThe Blueprint Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB), tasked with oversight of the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (“The Blueprint”), approved a strategic plan seeking to improve student enrollment in college and career readiness (CCR) programs.

The CCR plan was reviewed and tweaked by the AIB’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) Committee. The Committee is made up of members who were appointed last year as a unit within the Governor’s Workforce Development Board. Olivia Pearson, a STEM and CTE teacher in Prince George’s County, chairs the committee.

Over the summer, the AIB approved updates to the statewide Blueprint implementation plan, but specific areas for implementation remained for review, including CCR plans. The CTE Committee’s initial plan was submitted for consideration in March, but the AIB requested additional information before final approval.

The 85-page plan is meant to advance the Blueprint priority pillar to prepare Maryland high school students for college or careers after high school. The CCR implementation plan includes some measures for the current school year, including:

  • Implementing career counseling programs for middle and high school students;
  • Reviewing transportation needs for students to travel to job sites; and
  • Expanding collaboration with community colleges.

Two of the CTE Committee’s main Blueprint priorities are to increase the number of apprenticeships in Maryland to 60,000 in seven years and to ensure at least 45 percent of high school graduates complete a high-school level apprenticeship program by the 2030-31 school year. To establish a foundation of data toward the 45 percent goal and support the expansion of existing apprenticeship programs, the Committee will count student participation in the School-to-Apprenticeship, Youth Apprenticeship, and Registered Apprenticeship models toward the Blueprint goal through at least 2024 as covered by this initial Phase One plan.

As of 2021, nearly 4,100 high school graduates completed a youth apprenticeship or earned an industry-recognized credential.

From the Committee’s report:

To achieve full implementation of the vision, Maryland must develop and sustain a well-functioning career counseling system, stimulate an annual flow of 30,000 apprenticeship slots offered by employers, increase the readiness of high school students so a large number of students qualify for enrolling in an apprenticeship, streamline the process, ensure that non-apprenticeship industry-recognized credentials have significant value, have expert review teams in place, and enable the CTE Skill Standards Advisory Committee to build and otherwise compile sets of high-quality and well-vetted occupational competencies and certifications. While these efforts will take several years, the CTE Committee, Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs), Maryland’s apprenticeship office, and school systems can begin activities that make incremental contributions to the Blueprint vision.

Recommendations from the Committee outlined in its report included:

  • Building full registered apprenticeships for positions in state and local governments. Plausible
    targets have been identified in task force reports on health, transportation, and public safety
    positions. Teacher apprenticeships offer additional opportunities.
  • Encourage and help existing registered apprenticeship programs begin at the high school level.
    This task will involve partnering with relevant school districts to ensure full cooperation with
    school scheduling and access to students.
  • Budget for a “pay per apprentice” model to give financial incentives to intermediaries to
    stimulate new registered apprenticeships starting in high school. The first two years of this
    model could involve budgeting for about 6,000-8,000 apprenticeship slots per year. At $4,000
    per apprentice, the cost would be $24-$32 million.

While the CCR plan is a statewide guide to implementing CTE programming under the Blueprint, there is no statewide framework for CTE and how each school district should specifically approach CTE. “There’s got to be some time limit on how long this thing can hang out there without a statewide framework,” said board Vice Chair William “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor emeritus of the University System of Maryland. AIB Executive Director Rachel Hise responded that the CTE Committee must include a framework in its next Blueprint submission, due in March 2024. The March submission will focus on CTE for fiscal years 2025 to 2027.

Hise noted that an immediate next step for implementation is the State’s participation in two federal grant programs that support careers, technical and adult education, and workforce development.

Access the October 19 AIB meeting materials and video.