Preparing a Globally Competent Workforce Through High-Quality Career and Technical Education


Rapid economic, technological, and social changes are creating a world that is ever more interconnected. One in ten Americans is foreign born, and local communities—urban, suburban, and rural—are growing more diverse.

To take advantage of global market opportunities, companies must hire workers with global competence—that is, the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance. U.S. educators face a critical new imperative: to prepare all students for work and civic roles in an environment where success increasingly requires the ability to compete, connect, and cooperate on an international scale.

One promising way in which students can learn about and apply global competencies is through Career and Technical Education (CTE). With an anchor in preparing students for the careers of their choice and a focus on the critical academic, technical, and employability skills needed for success, CTE offers a natural platform on which to build global competencies. Globally minded CTE programs can provide the rigorous and authentic setting necessary to prepare students for the competitive world economy, while offering a more engaging, motivating, and relevant education experience.

While the integration of global content into K-12 schools and courses is still emerging, there are bright spots, including some CTE programs, already making connections between their local and the greater global economy.

Preparing a Globally Competent Workforce Through High-Quality Career and Technical Education (Cover)A new paper by the Association for Career and Technical Education, Asia Society, Longview Foundation, and National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, entitled Preparing a Globally Competent Workforce through High-Quality Career and Technical Education, offers insight into how educators can embed global competency into their CTE classrooms and how this effort can be incentivized by defining the need for global competency. The paper also shares case studies of globally minded CTE programs.

Increasing numbers of careers are requiring global competency, facility with world languages and cultures, and the ability to work in global teams. At a fundamental level, CTE’s role is to prepare students for successful careers, and quality CTE programs should provide opportunities for students to learn and apply global competencies in order for students to successfully participate in the American economy.

In the coming months, Asia Society will work to create new tools and resources to assist CTE teachers in integrating global issues and perspectives into their classrooms. If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact Heather Singmaster, Assistant Director, Education, Asia Society: [email protected].

A similar version of this article also appeared on Education Week's Global Learning blog.