ICYMI: Apprenticeships, Technical Education Offer a Path to a Successful Workforce – ‘College-only’ Is a Myth
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 21, 2017
In making his impassioned speech on how our county’s economy can grow through tax reform, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said Tuesday, “We need to connect people with the skills they need to get good-paying, in-demand jobs.”
Speaker Ryan is absolutely right, and the House is immediately answering the Speaker’s call to action.
These are students who find high-quality education and career development opportunities in their own communities, and are often recruited by companies in their own backyard who are in need of workers ready to play a role in a 21st century workforce.Last week, President Trump took an historic step towards recognizing the power of apprenticeships and skills-focused education in building tomorrow’s economy. The president’s action builds on the work Republicans in Congress have already begun to strengthen our workforce and close the skills gap.
In 2014, the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was enacted into law, and set in motion necessary reforms to improve the dialogue between local leaders and private businesses on how workforce education could better serve employers’ needs in communities across the country.
While WIOA opened the door to new opportunities, there’s still much work to be done. Educational institutions, private companies, and community leaders must play a role in the creation of workforce development programs, including apprenticeships that work best for the needs of their local communities.
Most importantly, all of these conversations can be had without the federal government dictating how these programs should be implemented.
Already, companies such as IBM, Boeing, AT&T, Walmart, and many others are working with their community career programs to educate our future workforce and provide students with the skills they will need to succeed in life.
A “Washington knows best” approach to creating successful skills-focused education programs is not the answer as communities plan and develop career and technical education programs tailored to their local economies.
The best thing the federal government can do is update our career and technical education laws to give community leaders and educators the tools and freedom they need to build programs that will open up more pathways for students and workers.
In doing so, we are also changing the way we think about education and vocations in this country.
This week, Congress will consider the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act to update our skills-focused and credentialing programs to meet the needs of a modern workforce.
Our state and local leaders in the public and private sectors are in the driver’s seat when it comes to workforce development, and Washington can watch and learn as their work closes the skills gap in our country.
All education truly is career education. When students, parents, employers, and government at every level understand that, we’ll be on the right track.
To view this op-ed online with video, click here.
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