Contact: Press Office (202) 226-9440
Witnesses: School, Employer Partnerships Key to Preparing Students for 21st Century Jobs

The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), today held a hearing on ways to reform the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and improve career and technical education (CTE) to better serve students and meet the needs of a 21st century economy.

“By reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, we have an opportunity to help more Americans—especially younger Americans—enter the workforce with the tools and knowledge necessary to compete for the high-skilled, in-demand jobs in our economy,” Chairman Rokita said.

Today millions of Americans are searching for full-time jobs and lack the preparation and skills needed to succeed in the workforce. Chairman Rokita continued, “Industries critical to our economy—healthcare, engineering, and manufacturing, for example—have jobs to fill and not enough qualified applicants to fill them.”

Witnesses at the hearing today agreed, underscoring the role career and technical education can play in closing the “skills gap” and transitioning students from high school to careers or post-secondary education.

“I would love to see CTE embraced as a way to engage students in rigorous academic studies and prepare them for post-secondary success; whether that takes them directly into a career or further study,” said Dr. Doug Major, superintendent and CEO of Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater, OK. “Experience tells us that, once engaged in technical curriculum, many students begin to recognize the importance of their academic classes. Many also begin to consider college as a viable pathway for the first time.”

Dr. Major also voiced support for policies that provide states, schools, and businesses the flexibility to design programs tailored to their students. “We need to shine a spotlight on these programs to make sure all students are given the opportunity to learn in a way that meets their needs—in an applied, hands-on learning environment,” he said.

Tim Johnson of Baton Rouge, LA, director of Government Relations at the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), discussed the importance of aligning CTE programs with workforce demands by tapping the potential of practitioners in the field. “The key to CTE is to find skilled craft professionals who have some communications skills and provide them with instruction and training resources,” Johnson said.

Dr. Deneece Huftalin, president of Salt Lake Community College, agreed with Johnson and Major that the best CTE programs address both the educational needs of students and the economic demands of local communities. “We are proud to be part of this collaborative effort which demonstrates best practices in CTE—using local industry data to establish relevant, strong career pathway between secondary education, higher education, and industry leaders,” Dr. Huftalin said.

“Helping Americans compete and succeed in today’s workforce remains one of the committee’s leading priorities, and today’s discussion is an important part of that effort,” Chairman Rokita concluded. “The goal at the federal level … is to ensure our investment in these state and local efforts is paying off for the students we aim to serve.”

To learn more about this hearing, visit /calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=399578.