CTE Advisory Committees: Making Them Work for You!

Curriculum Chair, Chaffey College
ASCCC South Representative

With the inception of the California Community College’s Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy initiatives, an urgent emphasis has been placed on maximizing all things related to career technical education (CTE), including efficiently run advisory committee meetings. While this emphasis may seem like yet another hoop through which faculty are asked to jump, these meetings can provide some valuable insight into program need and industry trends. This article will provide suggested practices and tips to maximize the use of your advisory committees.

To review, the appointment of vocational education advisory committees comes from Title 5


The governing board of each community college district participating in a vocational education program shall appoint a vocational education advisory committee to develop recommendations on the program and to provide liaison between the district and potential employers.

The committee shall consist of one or more representatives of the general public knowledgeable about the educational needs of disadvantaged populations, students, teachers, business, industry, the college administration, and the field office of the Employment Development Department.

In addition, CTE programs receiving federal funding through Perkins must “have extensive business and industry involvement, as evidenced by not less than one annual business and industry advisory committee meeting” (Section 135(b) of Perkins IV[2]).

In 2016, the Strong Workforce Taskforce recommendations further highlighted the need for engagement of industry professionals and faculty. Specifically, Recommendation 9(a)[3] states: “Engage employers, workforce boards, economic development entities, and other workforce organizations with faculty in the program development and review process.”

And, if the Strong Workforce movement has not done a complete enough job of expressing urgency and efficiency with CTE programs, the guided pathways efforts currently moving through our system surely will.

Title 5 language speaks to the need for advisory committee members from outside the college, for example, potential employers, industry leaders, and sector/deputy sector navigators. While the regulations do not speak to the specifics of running an advisory committee meeting, we know there are certain elements that are required from these committee meetings which will be needed as part of any CTE program’s curricular regional endorsement process.

Creating an agenda for advisory committee meetings might seem like a small detail; however, the importance of a prepared agenda should not be overlooked. Effective agendas demonstrate the specific need for input and maximize the use of advisory members’ time. Meetings should allow for both CTE program updates and updates and discussions of industry changes and emerging needs or trends. This practice will go a long way toward forging strong collaborative relationships with and between committee members.

Advisory committee meetings can also be an opportunity to conduct an employer survey. Sample areas to include in an employer survey may include the following topics and suggestions:

  • How does your advisory committee member’s business recruit?
    • Word of mouth/networking
    • Online application
    • Staffing agency
    • Internships
    • Online advertisement
    • Print advertisement
    • Other
  • How important are the following levels of education for employment at your advisory committee member’s business?
    • High school or equivalent
    • CTE certificate
    • Industry recognized certificate
    • Associate degree
    • Bachelor’s degree
  • What skills and training are required for employment at the advisory committee member’s business?
    • Previous work experience
    • Technical skills
    • Soft skills or Professional skills
    • Post-secondary education
  • What skills do your advisory committee members feel their current employees lack?
    • Written communication
    • Leadership
    • Critical thinking
    • Computer applications
    • Problem solving
    • Creativity/innovation
    • Oral communication
    • Self-direction
    • Professionalism/work ethic
    • Teamwork/collaboration
    • Any others not listed

Furthermore, advisory committee meetings can be an opportunity to solicit input regarding your existing programs’ annual reviews, as well as your stated program learning outcomes.

Advisory minutes need to be submitted to your regional consortium as part of the consortium’s review process. Minutes should include the date and location of the meeting. It is a good idea to include the names and titles of those in attendance. These details provide evidence of the working relationship your program has with potential employers. A meeting that includes only college faculty from the program will not demonstrate the connection with potential employers.

The minutes also need to detail conversations regarding the specific elements of curriculum under review which respond to industry needs. These details provide evidence for the need for software, equipment, and, of course, the curriculum. These recorded details also help demonstrate program needs in program review when requesting resources and/or other support. One suggestion for generating specific conversation regarding curriculum is to distribute copies of course outlines of record. Faculty may ask the attendees to highlight all content and objectives they feel are especially important, and to discuss details they believe are missing. Details about proposed certificates and programs of study should also be included in advisory committee minutes.

In addition, with a guided pathways framework coming soon to a neighborhood near you, advisory committee members can provide input on the creation of your college’s CTE pathways.

Running a robust advisory committee meeting, and recording minutes with the above referenced details, can help maximize the benefit of collaborating with industry experts to provide relevant, timely curricular options for our students.

[3] The documents pertaining to the Strong Workforce Project can be found here: <http://doingwhatmatters.cccco.edu/StrongWorkforce/ProjectPlan.aspx&gt;.