A new issue brief from the Center for American Progress, Preparing Students of Color for the Future Workforce, applies a race equity, community-centered lens to understand how to prepare Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students for college and the workforce. Major themes emerged from community conversations, which have allowed the authors to identify gaps that obstruct student preparation—including a lack of funding for college and career preparation and a lack of partnerships between K-12, higher education, and workforce systems. To address these gaps, K-12 schools and districts, higher education systems, employers, and local and state policymakers must work together to clarify future workforce changes and help students, teachers, and families build career knowledge. They must also ensure that Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students receive equitable and holistic preparation so that they can develop not only academic knowledge but also technical and 21st-century skills. This means preparing them for college, training them to receive high-quality credentials that lead to good jobs with decent pay, and appropriately enrolling them in work-based learning experiences such as internships and apprenticeships.
To benefit most from these experiences, students must be prepared for them long before they reach high school. And K-12 systems must also ensure that Black, Latino, and Indigenous students are not tracked into low-quality programs or out of a college degree, as such options continue to provide them economic gains.
K-12 schools and districts, higher education systems, companies and industry, and Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities need to partner with each other—and they need increased funding for college and career preparation. If K-12 schools and districts combine these efforts under a race equity, community-centered lens, they can help reduce disparate educational and career outcomes for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students and set them up for success in college and future careers.