Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Throughout much of the United States, career and technical education (CTE) is offered as one or more elective sequences within comprehensive high schools. We know very little about why students select into CTE in such systems, or more generally, whether the labor market affects students’ choice of coursework in high school. We test whether changes in the local labor market align with and affect course enrollments in three “in-demand” CTE career clusters in Tennessee: advanced manufacturing, information technology, and health science. We find evidence of roughly proportionate alignment between changes in advanced manufacturing CTE course-taking and changes in local manufacturing employment in recent years. Instrumental variable estimates, however, suggest that this is not necessarily due to students responding to local employment dynamics. We do not detect evidence of alignment, causal or otherwise, for health science or information technology CTE.