NEWS

Illinois to be national leader of “Cluster” group to help students plan careers

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March 16, 2000

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SpringfieldThe Illinois State Board of Education will lead a national project to create and pilot an educational framework for careers in the transportation, distribution and logistics field.

Illinois is working with a 40-state consortium to build and implement a “career cluster framework” to help students better develop and realize career goals.

U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley today announced the “Building Linkages” program. This initiative will be a new approach to what has traditionally been known as vocational education. Illinois, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, will lead the Building Linkages Project for Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics.

“We are very excited about having the opportunity to provide leadership for this project,” said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee.

“There is a great need for new people to enter this exciting career field. Through the work of the pilot sites, Illinois and the other partner states will be able to enhance math and science instruction and career and technical education,” McGee said.

Building Linkages relies on “career clusters” to provide a structure to help schools organize students according to their career goals and interests. There are 16 such “clusters” which broadly categorize careers from entry-level to professional/technical management. School counselors, students and parents then can use the clusters to guide students toward college, employment or both.

Transportation, distribution and logistics, for example is a large and growing sector of the economy.

Nationwide, more than 10 million people work in the field which encompasses jobs in transportation infrastructure planning; development and management; customer sales and service; transportation/mobile equipment design, development and operation; and material moving and handling among numerous other related careers.

Illinois has led in the development of occupational skill standards,” said Jim Schultz, chair of the Illinois Occupational Skill Standards and Credentialing Council.

“We are very excited to once again provide leadership in the use of skill standards and related math and science learning standards in the transportation, distribution and logistics industry,” Schultz said.

Various local, state and national public-private partnerships will conduct the project. The national Advisory Consortium has leading federal and state agencies, industry and professional organizations and labor unions, national educational organizations representing secondary and postsecondary education.

The project will have two phases. First, participants will organize major project partners, develop the career cluster framework, identify and develop curriculum assessment and technical assistance materials for schools and select school sites to pilot test the framework.

Next, the framework will be piloted in sites in at least nine states. Information and resources will be disseminated to promote the framework’s use nationwide.