By a bipartisan vote, the Senate has just approved reauthorization of a modified version of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education(CTE) Act. The program, which provides $1.1 Billion in funding for high school job training programs, was last reauthorized in 2006, making such an overhaul long overdue.
Deemed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the new draft was co-authored by Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey and Wyoming Republican Mike Enzi. This revision has been officially approved by the House and Senate, and as of Wednesday has been sent to President Trump for approval. Given that Trump has recently tweeted support for Perkins reauthorization, it’s incredibly likely he’ll sign the bill into law very soon.
Among key supporters of the reauthorization has been the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Recent estimates project that there will be more than 3.5 million open manufacturing jobs between 2015 and 2025, and of those, it’s anticipated that approximately 2 million will go unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers.
The changes proposed by the new bill are focused on ensuring that career and technical education properly prepares students for the modern workplace, and part of that is providing further resources for programs encouraging students to go into technical trades with expected growth like manufacturing.
Other highlights of the new bill’s changes to CTE include:
- Strengthening the use of industry-recognized credentials in educational programs.
- Goals and CTE assessment standards are determined at the state level, but states are required to make "meaningful progress" toward meeting these goals.
- Creating "core indicators" for the performance of students concentrating in CTE, such as the percentage who continue on to either postsecondary education or advanced training.
- Requiring schools to align career and technical education programs with the needs of the state or local communities.
This should manifest in more students taking an interest in CTE, more resources for those who do, and overall more qualified workers coming out of the education system.
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