Contact: Press Office (202) 226-9440
Thompson Statement: Debate on H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

A weak economy and advances in technology have dramatically changed today’s job market, creating both challenges and opportunities for men and women entering the workforce. That is why equipping today’s students with the tools they need to remain competitive is essential. One way we can achieve that goal is by strengthening career and technical education programs for those eager to pursue pathways to success.

As co-chair of the Career and Technical Education Caucus, I have worked hard to increase awareness about the opportunities available through CTE. For some students, a four-year college is the best path forward. For others, a CTE program might be the best way to shape a fulfilling and successful future.

These state and local programs help individuals obtain the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in a number of different occupations and fields—fields like health care, technology, and engineering. However, the law that provides federal support for these programs has not been updated in more than a decade. Simply put: It does not address the new challenges today’s students, workers, and employers face.

That’s why I, along with my colleague Representative Katherine Clark, introduced H.R. 5587—a bill that works to modernize and improve current law to better reflect those challenges and provide more opportunities for students to pursue successful, rewarding careers.

Recognizing the importance of engagement with community leaders and local businesses, this bill empowers state and local leaders by providing them with the flexibility they need to best prepare their students for the workforce and respond to the changing needs of their communities. H.R. 5587 also promotes work-based learning and encourages stronger partnerships with employers to help students obtain jobs now and throughout their lifetimes.

I am also proud to say H.R. 5587 takes steps to reduce the federal role in career and technical education while ensuring transparency and accountability among CTE programs. By streamlining performance measures, the bill provides state and local leaders—rather than the federal government—with the tools they need to hold these programs accountable.

These are just some of the important reforms this bill makes to provide Americans with clear pathways to success.