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Members Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Career and Technical Education
Legislation will help more Americans obtain knowledge, skills for in-demand jobs

Led by Republican and Democratic members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, policymakers today introduced the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. Introduced by Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA), the legislation reauthorizes and reforms the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and will help more Americans enter the workforce with the skills they need to compete for high-skilled, in-demand jobs.

“The importance of career and technical education has grown exponentially across the country since the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act was passed unanimously by Congress in 2006,” Rep. Thompson said. “This well-engineered and robust reauthorization aims to close our nation’s skills gap by creating clear pathways to education and training for students eager to pursue careers in vital technical fields. As co-chair of the House Career and Technical Education Caucus, I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.”

“Every student deserves a fair chance to earn the skills needed to thrive in the modern workforce,” Rep. Clark said. “That's why I'm introducing the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act for the 21st Century Act. This bill ensures our career and technical education system is flexible enough to adapt to the needs of emerging industries, is accountable to ensure every child has a chance to succeed, and is providing robust support for our educators. I look forward to working with the House Education and Workforce Committee to pass it into law.”

“For men and women trying to compete in today’s workforce, having the right knowledge and set of skills has never been more important,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said. “Career and technical education can provide incredible opportunities for Americans—especially younger Americans—to pursue good-paying jobs in industries critical to our economy. This bipartisan legislation will help more individuals seize those opportunities and achieve a lifetime of success. I want to extend my appreciation to Representatives Thompson and Clark for their hard work on this important proposal.”

“Once again, Committee Members were able to work together on a true bipartisan effort,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA). “With the assistance and counsel of our colleagues in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, we are proud to introduce the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which will modernize federal support for career and technical education. Today’s CTE programs work to prepare millions of students for lifelong success and help bridge the divide between high school and postsecondary education and training. This bipartisan bill prioritizes equity of opportunity for all students to participate in, and benefit from, high-quality CTE programs and will prepare them for high-skill, high-wage jobs that lead to economic self-sufficiency in the 21st century workforce. I believe this legislation is another important step toward education and workforce development system alignment for the benefit of students, families, and our nation.”

BACKGROUND: Since 1984, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act has provided federal support to state and local career and technical education (CTE) programs. These programs offer students the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to compete for jobs in a broad range of fields, such as health care and technology. However, because federal law has not been updated in more than a decade, it no longer reflects the realities and challenges facing students and workers.

Building on recent reforms to K-12 education and the workforce development system, Reps. Thompson and Clark—along with Reps. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Jim Langevin (D-RI), and Rick Nolan (D-MN)—introduced the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The bipartisan legislation will:
 
  • Deliver states more flexibility to use federal resources in response to changing education and economic needs.

  • Ensure career and technical education prepares all students, including historically disadvantaged and vulnerable students, for success in high-skill, high-wage occupations and careers in nontraditional fields.

  • Improve alignment with in-demand jobs by supporting innovative learning opportunities, building better community partnerships, and encouraging stronger engagement with employers.

  • Enhance career and technical education through increased focus on employability skills, work-based learning opportunities, and meaningful credentialing so students are prepared to enter the workforce poised for success.

  • Streamline performance measures to ensure career and technical education programs deliver results for students and taxpayers.

  • Reduce administrative burdens and simplify the process for states to apply for federal resources.

  • Reward success and innovation by directing federal resources to replicate promising practices that best serve students and employers.

  • Provide parents, students, and stakeholders a voice in setting performance goals and evaluating the effectiveness of local programs.

  • Empower state and local leaders to develop plans that improve the quality of career and technical education and take into account unique ‎local and state needs.
 
To read a fact sheet on the bill, click here.

To read a more detailed bill summary, click here.

To read the bill, click here.