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Reforms Needed to Modernize the American Workforce

Helping Americans succeed in the workforce is a leading priority for members on the Education and the Workforce Committee. That’s why the committee unanimously passed a bill to strengthen career and technical education and help prepare more students for today’s high-demand jobs. Mark MacCarthy, vice president for public policy at the Software & Information Industry Association, wrote in The Hill how this bipartisan proposal will “ensure that technical education can anticipate the demand for jobs and equip the next generation labor force to meet these challenges.”

Reforms Needed to Modernize the American Workforce
By Mark MacCarthy
July 18, 2016

Siri will update you on the weather, share a joke, and tell you what’s on your calendar – but what she won’t tell you is that she’s the reason many fear technology is the enemy of jobs. Not Siri alone of course, but the myriad of ways technology is automating systems and eliminating the need for manual processes has created a growing uneasiness about the future of work.

While this fear is very likely overstated, there is no question that technology is reshaping the way work gets done. It is time for policymakers, industry and educators to fully recognize this change, and do more to adjust to the modern business environment.

In a display of bipartisan unity July 7, the House Education and Workforce Committee took a significant step towards doing just that. With its unanimous passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the Committee began the process of streamlining and modernizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act – first passed in the Reagan Administration – to better meet the needs of today’s students and businesses.

The Perkins Act provides federal support to state and local career and technical education, or CTE, programs, which are created and operated by state and local education leaders. These programs prepare high school and postsecondary students with academic, technical, and employability skills. But over the years, they have clearly struggled to keep up with the realities and challenges facing today’s workers and businesses.

The proposed reauthorization will strengthen connections between CTE programs and business and industry. Doing so will help more precisely identify the career fields, along with the skills and credentials, needed regionally. The legislation also calls for a new biennial needs assessment that will ensure programs stay current as workforce needs evolve. These reforms will help CTE programs make certain students can compete for the particular types of jobs that exist locally – now, and in the future ...

If the House passes the current reform bill and the Senate follows with quick action, we will make meaningful progress to ensure that technical education can anticipate the demand for jobs and equip the next generation labor force to meet these challenges.

To read the full op-ed, click here.

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