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Impact of CTE on California:

Capacity shortfall filled by other states

Issued by Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce March 27, 2014

Key Findings

Community college career and technical education programs (CTE) bring a significant value to California, but California community colleges lack capacity to produce enough trained workers to meet current employer demand. Out of state trained workers are filling California jobs.

Strong participation: 45% of California workers participated in CTE-oriented programs, among those aged 18-29 who earned associate’s degrees or reported attending some college.

Stronger wages: California workers in CTE fields accounted for 56% of the wage contribution to the economy—which is substantially larger than their employment share—among those aged 18- 29 who earned associate’s degrees or reported attending some college.

Significant wage gains: Five years after starting community college, CTE students saw a median wage gain of at least 40%—a significantly larger gain than non-CTE students.

Qualifying for high-demand, earnings-boosting credentials: Industry-specific certifications are playing an increasingly important role in workforce education. Census data shows that 46 million workers have earned a test-based certification, and a federal advisory panel on workplace

credentials recently noted that two-thirds of certification and licensure preparation is done at community colleges. Furthermore, those with some college or associate’s degrees see significant wage gains when they attain a third-party certification.

Room to grow: Between 2005-2012, roughly 44,000 workers with associate’s degrees or some college moved to California each year and got jobs in CTE occupations, many of which were high- demand, high-pay careers.


The Numbers Behind the Key Messages

Strong Participation in CTE Programs

The National Center for Education Statistics uses the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) system codes to classify instructional programs, and allows differentiation between liberal arts and career education curriculum. This taxonomy, along with the California Occupation to Education Crosswalk provided by the Chancellor’s Office of the California Community Colleges, allows users to classify education programs as either liberal arts or career and technical

education and to link these programs to potential occupations. While there are multiple education pathways for each occupation, and multiple career possibilities for every education program, we approximate the occupations most likely to employ graduates of CTE programs.

These occupations were then compared to American Communities Survey (ACS) data on earnings and the workforce in order to identify occupations where workers are most likely to have a CTE background.

Stronger Wages

ACS data includes the percent of workers in each age group in a given field, their median earnings, the percentage working full time/full year (FTFY) and the population of each group.

These findings are presented for all workers, as well as separately for workers with various levels of education.

The table below presents the total wages for workers with “some college” or an associate’s degree, by various age groups. CTE occupations included only those that could be specifically tracked to a CTE program in the California Community College system, and excludes those who were more likely to be traced to a liberal arts program. Uncertain occupations include those occupations which are linked to both CTE and liberal arts curricula, as well as those for which no program could be identified. Non-CTE occupations are those linked primarily to liberal arts instructional programs. For this reason, the table below presents a very conservative estimate of the gains to CTE students. Even using this conservative estimate, CTE occupations comprise the majority wage share for every age group. Further, they account for a greater wage share than their population share in every age category.

Wage Share of CTE Occupations, for “Some College” and Associate’s Degrees

Age: 18-29 30-49 50-65 All

CTE Occupations:


$129,778,752,206 $514,170,053,955 $302,811,195,114 $946,760,001,275

Population: 5,006,247 10,427,751 5,794,982 21,228,980


Wages: $102,163,689,490 $297,855,430,961 $195,249,767,188 $595,268,887,639

Population: 5,910,986 7,651,812 4,465,768 18,028,566


Age: 18-29 30-49 50-65 All Non-CTE



$1,509,131,909 $7,175,437,970 $4,198,324,199 $12,882,894,078

Population: 112,295 167,038 95,539 374,872

Wage Share of

CTE occupations: 56% 63% 60% 61%

Population Share of CTE


45% 57% 56% 54%

The following table shows the average gain in median wages by occupation type, for those with an associate’s degree or “some college,” in relation to those in the same occupation and age group with a high school diploma or less. For occupations identified as primarily CTE-based, additional education is linked to an increase in median wages, on average, while the reverse is true for non-CTE occupations. These wage gains are higher for older workers.

Wage Returns for High School Diploma Or Less Versus “Some College”

Age CTE Occupations Uncertain Other Occupations

18-29 +$1,906 +$5,646 -$7,907

30-49 +$9,263 -$22,641 -$6,674

50-65 +$7,914 +$24,088 -$2,680

We experimented with various ways to further classify occupations with no direct ties to CTE curriculum. First, classifying those occupations with at least 60,000 workers between 18 and 49 by the education requirements listed on the BLS or O*NET websites allowed us to reduce the number of “uncertain” occupation clusters. The following table includes both large and small industries. Through this more liberal classification of occupations, the wage share attributed to CTE graduates increases, and the population share of CTE graduates also increase. In both models, CTE occupations still account for a greater proportion of wages than their population share would indicate.

Wage Share of CTE Occupations, for “Some College” and Associate’s Degrees

Age: 18-29 30-49 50-65 All

CTE Occupations:

Wages: $138,532,207,635 $551,982,184,432 $329,338,488,656 $1,019,852,880,723 Uncertain:

Wages: $30,522,158,087 $122,066,273,544 $86,063,275,394 $238,651,707,025 Non-CTE Occupations:

Wages: $63,576,532,845 $142,646,153,666 $85,531,473,738 $291,754,160,249 Wage Share of CTE

occupations: 60% 68% 66% 66%

Population Share of

CTE occupations: 49% 62% 61% 58%


The next chart shows the average change in median wages across industries for a worker with

“some college” or an associate’s degree, in comparison to a worker with a high school diploma or less. After using O*NET information to re-categorize large industries into CTE or non-CTE

pathways, some changes emerge. Unlike our previous charts, we see positive returns in most categories. The largest gains are still among the oldest workers, with non-CTE occupations seeing the smallest increase in wages, and young workers in non-CTE fields seeing negative wage returns to advancing beyond a high school degree.

Wage Returns for High School Diploma Or Less Versus “Some College”

Age CTE Occupations Uncertain Other Occupations

18-29 $1,838 $6,921 -$2,655

30-49 $9,257 $25,629 $6,085

50-65 $7,988 $27,392 $4,907

The following table shows the same analysis, limiting industries to those with at least 60,000 young or prime age workers, along with a more liberal definition of CTE derived using a combination of the California Community College crosswalk and O*NET information reflecting education requirements in a particular field. The selection of larger industries tends to make earnings data within an industry more reliable; however, limiting the sample in this way also leads to very small numbers of industries being analyzed in some categories. Bearing this in mind, this definition of CTE also provides us with the largest estimate of wage share in CTE occupations, as well as the highest estimates of population shares.

Wage Share of CTE Occupations, for “Some College” and Associate’s Degrees

Age: 18-29 30-49 50-65 All

CTE Occupations:


$121,659,625,200 $466,205,712,974 $273,908,186,893 $861,773,525,067


Wages: $6,639,260,335 $37,689,387,436 $28,519,005,997 $72,847,653,767 Non-CTE



$62,012,933,203 $136,067,723,240 $81,971,880,145 $280,052,536,588

Wage Share of

CTE occupations: 64% 73% 71% 71%

Population Share of CTE


52% 66% 66% 62%


The final chart shows the average change in median wages for a worker with “some college” or an associate’s degree, in comparison to those with a high school degree or less. This chart pertains to only workers with at least 60,000 young or prime age workers, and uses the more liberal definition of CTE discussed earlier. Positive wage gains occur in most categories; however wage returns in CTE fields exceed those of non CTE occupations in all age ranges.

Wage Returns for High School Diploma Or Less Versus “Some College”

Age CTE Occupations Uncertain Other Occupations

18-29 $1,407 -$1,062 -$83

30-49 $7,219 $12,641 $6,537

50-65 $8,181 $15,550 $5,989

Significant Wage Gain

For this data point we made use of the most recent Beginning Post-Secondary education study (BPS) data that tracks first-time college students who entered school in 2004 and follows them until 2009. Because this data is representative of all first-time college-goers, rather than being a California-specific metric, this item has been adjusted to reflect the proportion of students that California contributes to the national pool of community college students. While differences may exist in California, we are not able to attest to the size of the difference.

Median Wage Gains among First-Time Students Who Did and Didn’t Major in CTE Fields (2005-09) Median 2005

(adjusted to 2009 dollars) Median 2009 % Change in Median Earnings


Non-CTE 22,578 26,240 16%

CTE 20,836 28,700 38%


Non-CTE 26,458 27,700 5%

CTE 22,048 32,500 47%

Other work with these data suggest CTE students are less likely to be under-employed and more likely to be working full time for a full year.

Qualifying for High-Demand, Earnings-Boosting Credentials

For this data point, we examined the United States Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), which demonstrated a wage premium for certificate holders across educational attainment levels. The results are displayed in the table below.


Median Monthly Earnings for Certificate and Non-Certificate Holders, by Level of Educational Attainment

Education Have a certification Median earnings

Less than high school no 1,728

yes 2,333

High school diploma no 2,252

yes 2,917

“Some college,” no degree no 2,667

yes 3,000

Vocational certificate no 2,594

yes 2,917

Associate’s degree no 2,917

yes 3,333

Bachelor’s degree no 4,167

yes 4,250

Graduate degree no 5,500

yes 5,625

The SIPP data also show that certifications in CTE fields bring additional, economically

significant earnings gains to workers of all education levels; but in particular to workers with

“some college” and no degree. In most of CTE fields shown in the table below, those with “some college” and a certificate earn a similar amount or more than associate’s degree holders with a certificate. This suggests that community colleges are making an important contribution to wage gains for students who secure third-party credentials, even if they do not complete a community college credential.

Median Monthly Earnings with a Certification in Specific CTE Disciplines, by Level of Educational Attainment

High school diploma

“Some college,”

no degree Vocational

certificate Associate’s degree

Administrative support 3,333 3,341 3,000 5,455

Architecture and engineering 4,300 6,250 4,917 4,000

Business/finance management 3,800 3,360 2,720 4,035

Computer applications and

design 3,500 3,542 2,771 3,577

Computer networking and

administration 3,264 5,917 3,024 5,400

Construction and manufacturing

trades 3,672 3,800 3,500 4,025

Cosmetology 1,333 2,078 1,758 1,010

Culinary arts 1,645 1,800 3,583 3,024

Education 1,667 2,167 1,324 2,250

Legal and social services 2,917 4,472 3,456 3,194

Nursing/nurse assisting 2,030 1,949 2,164 3,800

Other 3,031 3,176 3,200 3,348


High school diploma

“Some college,”

no degree Vocational

certificate Associate’s degree

Other medical/health care 2,473 2,600 2,376 2,851

Protective services 3,333 3,456 3,500 3,750

Public utilities 3,333 4,583 4,124 6,048

Transportation and material

moving 3,085 3,415 3,403 2,750

Finally, the federal advisory panel on workplace credentials referenced in this point is the Interagency Working Group on Expanded Measures of Enrollment and Attainment (GEMEnA).

Room to Grow

We used associate’s degree production in California, as reported in the 2011 Digest of Education Statistics in the two-year public sector (84,000 graduates), as the baseline. For the entrants’

data we used a massive pooled American Community Survey sample (2005-2012), which gave us the ability to look at a person’s residence in the last year by their education attainment. These data show 956,250 entrants. First, we divided the total 956,250 entrants with an associate’s degree and “some college” by seven to get the annual number. We then used current occupation to define CTE occupations versus non-CTE: 806,000 have identified occupations and 308,000 are in CTE occupations. This results in 44,000 CTE entrants from other states annually between 2005-12.

Based on our tight definition, this production shortage number is likely to be biased downwards (occupations that are “partially” or “somewhat likely” to be CTE are not included). The point about “high-skill, high-pay” jobs is consistent with the other evidence on CTE employment advantages.


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