Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act Passes the House
(Washington, DC) —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), a senior member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, voted for final passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously. Courtney is a strong supporter of the legislation which passed the Education and the Workforce Committee last year. An earlier version of this legislation passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote in June 2017, before the Senate considered and amended the bill last week. The bill will reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 which is designed to provide additional support for secondary and postsecondary students pursuing technical education. The legislation will now head to the President’s desk for signature.
“This bill is about preparing secondary and postsecondary students with the academic and technical skills that are required to be successful in the workforce at a critical time for our economy,” said Courtney. “All across the country there is an exciting and growing need for trade and technical skills to fill jobs that young people can build a career and life around. According to the National Association of Manufactures, there will be 3.5 million open manufacturing jobs through 2025. Advanced manufacturing opportunities in the aerospace, maritime, and even healthcare industries are opening from coast to coast, and the question of the day for many employers is whether our education and job training systems are ready to fill the need. The Perkins CTE bill will ensure that we are graduating students who are able to fill those jobs.
H.R. 2353 reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) through Fiscal Year 2024. Perkins was first authorized in 1984 to provide federal assistance for state and local career and technical education programs, and help prepare both secondary and postsecondary students with the academic and technical skills required to be successful in the growing high-tech workforce. It is important to note that Perkins aims to prepare students for both careers and college tracks.
The measure passed in the House this week will align Perkins programs with two landmark bills passed in recent years by the House Education and the Workforce Committee of which Courtney is a member: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Specifically, this reauthorization builds on past successes of Perkins and focuses on ways to serve both workers and employers by: aligning career and technical education programs to the needs of state and local labor markets, supporting close collaboration between schools and employers, increasing student participation in work-based learning opportunities, and promoting the use of industry-recognized credentials and certificates.
Courtney has been closely involved with efforts to align workforce training programs to meet employer needs in eastern Connecticut. Most notably, he worked with leaders of the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB) to secure $6 million in federal funding for their “manufacturing pipeline” program, which is helping to meet the growing demand for highly skilled technicians at Electric Boat and other manufacturers in the region. With Electric Boat projected to hire 14,000 workers over the next 15 years to meet growth and attrition in its workforce, alignment of training programs and employer needs is critical.
The new reauthorization of Perkins will allow entities like EWIB to work with local high schools and expand its partnership with both community colleges and traditional four-year institutions in eastern Connecticut to effectively place job seekers with local manufacturers.