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House Passes Bill to Strengthen Career and Technical Education

Republican and Democratic members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce today praised House passage of H.R. 5587, 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 to help more Americans enter the workforce with the skills they need to compete for high-skilled, in-demand jobs. The members also called on their colleagues in the Senate to take up this bipartisan legislation.

“Career and technical education plays a powerful and positive role in helping individuals obtain the skills they need to be competitive in today's workforce. As co-chair of the House Career and Technical Education Caucus, I was proud to join with Rep. Clark in introducing this bill,” Rep. Thompson said. “With passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the House has taken a significant step toward helping more Americans pursue fulfilling and successful futures. I am happy we were able to work in a bipartisan manner on this important issue and look forward to our continued efforts to ensure career and technical education provides many more students with a path to success.”

“Millions of students and workers are eager to advance in good paying, high demand technical careers,” Rep. Clark said. “Their work is critical to the nation’s continued leadership in a 21st century global economy. Today’s passage of our bill to strengthen career and technical education programs is a victory for millions of hardworking families who deserve a path to success. Now, I call on Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to come together and pass similar commonsense legislation.”

“Career and technical education has helped individuals from all walks of life achieve success, and this proposal will empower more Americans to write their own success stories,” Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said. “I want to thank Representatives Thompson and Clark for putting forward a bipartisan proposal that will help students obtain the skills necessary for good-paying jobs and fulfilling careers. At a time when many individuals are searching for work and employers have jobs to fill, these reforms are urgently needed and long overdue. I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to take up this bipartisan bill without delay and join us in empowering more men and women to achieve a lifetime of success.”

“Our nation’s students are counting on us to make sure they are armed with the skills and knowledge that today’s employers demand,” Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) said. “Modern CTE programs help ensure students receive a foundational education, which can help them succeed in their work. This bipartisan, comprehensive reauthorization will improve program quality and services for students most in need of excellent academic content and real-world, work-based skill development. I now call on my colleagues in the Senate to take up and pass this consensus legislation for our nation’s students and workforce.”

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—approved unanimously by the committee—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 learn more about H.R. 5587, click here.

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