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Succeeding in the 21st Century Workforce

Quality education and training are essential to competing in today’s workforce. For decades, career and technical education (CTE) has helped prepare students like Paul Tse to do just that. Tomorrow, the committee will take action to help more Americans obtain the knowledge and skills they need to earn a lifetime of success. Here’s a quick recap of Paul’s story and why the committee’s effort this week is so important:

A CTE graduate of Thomas Edison High School in Silver Spring, Md., Paul testified that he struggled as a student, explaining that while many of his peers were planning for college, he was left without many options or a direction for his life. He said, “I can still remember the feelings of embarrassment and helplessness as those around me began their climb towards success as I sat at the bottom.”

That all changed—thanks in large part to CTE. With the help of a family member and a guidance counselor, Paul was introduced to the world of skilled trade and technical education. He explained:

My life took a dramatic turn when a family member, who was a roofer, suggested I look into the skilled trades as a career path … With the help of my guidance counselor, I found a local career and technical education program and Edison High School of Technology … Thanks to the dedicated staff and a new found sense of direction, I graduated the program at the same time as my peers were graduating their typical high schools. Within a week of graduation I had two job offers from respected local companies to join their teams as an apprentice.

Paul now has a successful career as a project manager for a mechanical contractor company. Stories like his are just one of the many reasons the committee is working to advance 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), this bipartisan proposal includes reforms that will help more Americans enter the workforce with the tools and knowledge they need to compete for high-skilled, in-demand jobs. The bill:

  • Empowers state and local community leaders by simplifying the application process for receiving federal funds and providing more flexibility to use federal resources to respond to changing education and economic needs.
  • Improves alignment with in-demand jobs by supporting innovative learning opportunities, building better community partnerships, and encouraging stronger engagement with employers.
  • Increases transparency and accountability by streamlining performance measures to ensure CTE programs deliver results and empowering parents, students, and stakeholders with a voice in setting performance goals and evaluating the effectiveness of local programs.
  • Ensures a limited federal role by reining in the secretary of education’s authority, limiting federal intervention, and preventing political favoritism.

These solutions—along with the bill’s other reforms—will help more individuals achieve success like Paul’s, and become, in his words, the “American Dream.”

For more information about the bill, click here.