WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Committee on Education and the Workforce today, July 7 approved H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.
Introduced by Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), the legislation reauthorizes and reforms the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to help more Americans enter the workforce with the skills they need to compete for high-skilled, in-demand jobs. The bill passed the committee by a vote of 37 to 0.
“Some of our most important investments are our investments in our students and our workforce,” said REp. Clark. “The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act ensures career and technical education programs are flexible enough to adapt to the needs of new industries, accountable to ensure every child has a chance to succeed, and robust to provide support for our educators. I am proud to say this bill is the product of Democrats and Republicans putting partisanship aside and working together to do the right thing for our students.”
“I deeply appreciate the support of my colleagues on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for this thoughtful legislation, which will bring our nation’s career and technical education system into the 21st century,” said Thompson. “We have witnessed the increased growth in career and technical education since the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act was passed unanimously by Congress in 2006. As co-chair of the House Career and Technical Education Caucus, I consider the Committee’s approval of this bipartisan bill to be a landmark step towards closing our nation’s skills gap and empowering students pursuing careers in vital technical fields.”
“Today, we’ve taken another important step to ensure every American has access to the skills and education they need to compete in the workforce,” Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said. “Career and technical education has placed countless individuals on the path to success, and this bipartisan legislation will empower more individuals to follow that same path. It includes numerous reforms to prepare students for high-demand jobs that exist today, not the jobs that existed years ago. I want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues, especially Representatives Thompson and Clark, for working together to strengthen career and technical education and to help more Americans succeed in the workforce.”
“Each and every student should have access to high-quality career and technical education programs that provide the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in the 21st century economy,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA). “While successful CTE programs must meet labor market needs, they must also work for students. This bill will ensure that students, especially historically disadvantaged and underserved students, are prepared for success in high-demand jobs that offer living wages, employer benefits, and opportunities for meaningful career advancement. H.R. 5587 also maintains the vital role of the federal government in oversight and enforcement for program quality, improvement, and equity for all students.”
Since 1984, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act has provided federal support to state and local career and technical education (CTE) programs. These programs offer students the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to compete for jobs in a broad range of fields, such as health care and technology. However, because federal law has not been updated in more than a decade, it no longer reflects the realities and challenges facing students and workers.
Building on recent reforms to K-12 education and the workforce development system, Reps. Thompson and Clark—along with Reps. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Jim Langevin (D-RI), and Rick Nolan (D-MN)—introduced the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The bipartisan legislation will:
- Deliver states more flexibility to use federal resources in response to changing education and economic needs.
- Ensure career and technical education prepares all students, including historically disadvantaged and vulnerable students, for success in high-skill, high-wage occupations and careers in nontraditional fields.
- Improve alignment with in-demand jobs by supporting innovative learning opportunities, building better community partnerships, and encouraging stronger engagement with employers.
- Enhance career and technical education through increased focus on employability skills, work-based learning opportunities, and meaningful credentialing so students are prepared to enter the workforce poised for success.
- Streamline performance measures to ensure career and technical education programs deliver results for students and taxpayers.
- Reduce administrative burdens and simplify the process for states to apply for federal resources.
- Reward success and innovation by directing federal resources to replicate promising practices that best serve students and employers.
- Provide parents, students, and stakeholders a voice in setting performance goals and evaluating the effectiveness of local programs.
- Empower state and local leaders to develop plans that improve the quality of career and technical education and take into account unique local and state needs.