Sustaining a National Strategy for Career and Technical Education: Leveraging Past Programs to Create Future Successes

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

The U.S. Department of Labor invested about $2B over 12 years in two major community college initiatives to strengthen their capacities to improve the pipelines to sustainable employment. The presentation will review TAACCCT and SCC programs, the resources still being leveraged from SkillsCommons, and lessons learned relevant for future programs.


Gerard L. Hanley Ph.D. is the Executive Director of MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, and SkillsCommons ( for the California State University, the Director for the Center for Usability for Design and Accessibility and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach. At MERLOT and SkillsCommons, he directs the development and sustainability of the international consortium and technology strategy to provide open educational services to improve teaching and learning and continues to development the US Department of Labor's open repository of educational resources for workforce development. Gerry's previous positions include Assistance Vice Chancellor for Academic Technology Services at the CSU Office of the Chancellor, the Director of Faculty Development and Director of Strategy Planning at CSU, Long Beach.

Extended Abstract

From aviation manufacturing in urban Seattle to health care in rural Montana, many community colleges have used their U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants to develop work-based learning (WBL) opportunities and build the capacity of their institution to prepare their students for 21st century employment. After TAACCCT was completed in 2018, The Department of Labor implemented another program titled, Strengthen Community Colleges.  While TAACCCT engaged 256 grant projects with over $1.9B, SCC was significantly smaller with 11 projects receiving $40M.  For both grant programs, the WBL activities provides alternative learning environments, subject matter experts, and assignments as compared to classroom learning that can accelerate the students’ readiness for successful employment is high skilled jobs.  With the COVID pandemic, how will Career and Technical Education programs prepare the workforce with the significant restrictions on hands-on, work-based learning?   Blending online learning with Open Educational Resources and Practices with work-based experiences will help balance the learning needs and the social distancing restriction during COVID.  With the current recession we still need to place thousands of adults into well-paying jobs and ensure American firms’ competitiveness in the global marketplace.

This presentation will review and demonstrate a variety of WBL programs of study that are freely available SkillsCommons, an OER repository developed for TAACCCT grantees across multiple sectors to store all their instructional and program support materials.  The presentation will have participants explore these resources on their own devices and select materials that could be applicable to their own institutions.  The review/demonstration will cover a wealth of teaching and learning OER that can be used to scale and sustain apprenticeship programs, strategies for designing apprenticeship programs, and detailed tactics for implementing apprenticeship programs. 

The presentation will also showcase how SkillsCommons can design, deliver, and sustain a customized OER portal with MERLOT’s Content Builder tool to provide higher education, industry partners, and 3rd party intermediaries with the following:

  • Learning content for apprentices in Work-Based Learning Training Programs for On-the-Job Training and Related Technical Instruction (classroom delivery), including content focused on workplace safety that can be delivered online.
  • Online teaching content for mentors in Work-Based Learning Training Programs for On-the-Job Training and Related Technical Instruction (classroom delivery), including an online/hybrid training program to help mentors become better teachers (Jumpstart to Successful Instruction) developed by SkillsCommons that can be delivered online.
  • Exemplary innovations in apprenticeship and support services for program design, management, and evaluation resources produced by TAACCCT grantees and curated by SkillsCommons. Program evaluations of TAACCCT projects provided evidence of effective apprentice programs improving retention and employment.

Finally, the presentation will end with a group discussion (via chat in Zoom)  on the institutional and industry sector barriers for implementing successful and sustainable apprenticeship programs and how the resources reviewed during the workshop can be used to overcome these barriers.

What are the explicit participant learning outcomes for the workshop?

  1. Participants will be able to find, download, and retain digital workforce development training resources that they will be able to reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute for the curriculum in moving their CTE programs online
  2. Participants will be able to identify and reuse the OER designed to support industry experts to become better instructors within CTE programs
  3. Participants will be able to reuse, revise, and remix a MERLOT OER portal for their own institution that aggregates OER resources to help their faculty and students move online.
  4. Participants will be able to reuse, revise, and remix the SkillsCommons resources on apprenticeship programs for their own institution to help their faculty design a quality, hybrid work-based learning experience.
  5. Within the online session, participants will learn from other participants in the session about the challenges they are facing and strategies for addressing these challenges.