A skilled and professional workforce is the backbone of our state and local communities. Modernizing the reimbursement structure would help meet two pressing priorities: Overcoming a “talent shortage” to propel our state’s economy and providing today’s young people with every opportunity for future success.
Modernize Investment in Career & Technical Education
Protect and Expand the Pipeline of Skilled Workers from BOCES CTE Programs
Students who attend BOCES Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs are our state’s future healthcare workers, electricians, welders, skilled manufacturers, commercial drone operators, alternative energy experts and more. They represent the workforce that New York will need to compete in a modern economy. However, one of the primary ways that we invest in that workforce has not been updated in more than a generation. Districts are only eligible to receive state aid on $30,000 of a CTE instructor’s salary, a limit that has not moved since it was first established in 1992. This constrains investments in CTE programs by forcing unnecessary choices between these opportunities and other educational services. BOCES of New York State joins with the Board of Regents and many other statewide educational advocacy organizations in calling for this cap to be increased in light of the need to invest in a skilled and professional workforce and promote equity in educational opportunities across our state.
BOCES of New York State Position: Increase the aidable salary for CTE instructors to $60,000, with a comparable increase in special services aid, over the next three years.
Missed Opportunities and Inequities
While the cost of sending students to programs has grown since 1992, the limit on reimbursement has stayed the same. This diminished state investment in support for CTE programs has real impacts at the district level. With funding for these opportunities not keeping pace with costs, schools have to make choices about what to do with limited resources. Local school leaders must choose between providing students with CTE programs they are interested in or addressing other educational priorities. Further, this issue contributes to inequities across district lines, as districts with varying resources and student needs are forced to make different choices about CTE offerings and other programs and services for students.
“The Talent Shortage”
Government officials, economists and business leaders have all pointed to a concerning gap between the workforce needed to power our economy and the availability of workers to fill that need. In a 2020 survey, The Manpower Group found that 69% of U.S. companies were “struggling to fill positions.” A leading global workforce solutions company, The Manpower Group refers to the current challenge as a “talent shortage.” As our economy changes and baby boomers retire, the need for a skilled workforce is not expected to change. BOCES programs are widely recognized as an important part of the solution.
In the 2020-21 school year, more than 38,500 students developed college- and career-ready skills through BOCES CTE programs. Many of the programs created in recent years are directly connected to high-growth industries like health care, construction, computers and mathematics, renewable energy, education and service industries. A total of 6,040 New York business served on BOCES CTE advisory councils across the state, providing direct input into programs designed to provide students with the training and skills necessary to serve their industries in the future. The Washington-Saratoga-Hamilton-Warren-Essex BOCES’ “Women in the Trades” initiative is just one example of many across that state of how BOCES and business partners are doing everything possible to draw more of our talented young people into these critical areas.
Conclusion: Invest in the Future
The cap on aidable salaries is not about educators’ salaries, but a mechanism for expanding the capacity of our overall system to meet student needs and develop the future workforce. BOCES is one of many engines of economic growth and opportunity in our state. More than 70 years ago, New York lawmakers had the knowledge and foresight to create the BOCES system. A skilled and professional workforce is the backbone of our state and local communities. Modernizing the reimbursement structure would help meet two pressing priorities: Overcoming a “talent shortage” to propel our state’s economy and providing today’s young people with every opportunity for future success. Updating this outdated cap is one of the wisest investments our state could make.
Download the Modernize Investment in Career & Technical Education position paper [PDF].