Our Work

Who We Are

The Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD) is a national nonprofit organization that helps educators and workforce development professionals prepare learners for success in college and careers. Since 1979 CORD has led federal, state, and local initiatives supporting the design and development of Career Pathways and stackable credentials; creation of extensive math and science curriculum; professional development for thousands of U.S. and international teachers; and over 50 national conferences on Career Pathways and technician education.

The Ideas That Drive Our Work

CORD is a national leader in working with educators and employers to prepare students and adults for the technological challenges of the future. These efforts focus on Industry 4.0 workforce issues and technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, virtual/augmented reality, cybersecurity, blockchain, the Internet of Things, and big data. Visit our Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work project.

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Growing numbers of employers are voicing concern that they cannot find enough talent with strong employability skills – dependability, integrity, and work ethic, along with skills such as problem-solving and organization, adaptability, and entrepreneurship. To see what we’re doing to help address this issue, visit our Necessary Skills Now project.

We believe all educational programs (at least beginning with the last two years of high school) should lead participants along clearly defined pathways to careers. Career Pathways align with industry standards and provide opportunities for learners to acquire credentials that qualify them for careers in specific occupations and clusters. Career Pathways accommodate the circumstances of nontraditional students and enable learners to move through the education-to-careers pipeline faster. See our publications on Career Pathways and Adult Career Pathways.
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In recent years more and more community and technical colleges have been embedding “stackable” credentials into their associate degree programs. Because they are aligned with industry need, these incremental milestones on the path to associate degree completion help students acquire marketable skills at multiple points along the education continuum. For more on this approach to program organization, see our recent publication titled Introduction to Stackable Credentials.

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To ensure that educational programs prepare students for the real challenges of the workplace, employers should be involved in shaping those programs. However, conventional program advisory committees often fall short of strategic engagement. Through its BILT Academy, CORD challenges educators to be proactive in forming Business and Industry Leadership Teams (BILT), in which participating employers take a co-leadership role in technical education programs. See more here.

young man speaking to group

Most students’ interest and achievement in school improve dramatically when new information is presented “in context,” i.e., in ways that show connections between what the students are being taught and how that knowledge is used outside the classroom. CORD’s approach to contextual teaching and learning takes the form of five essential learner engagement processes we refer to collectively as REACT: Relating, Experiencing, Applying, Cooperating, and Transferring. See this document for more.

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