Introduced in a bipartisan effort by US Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act is a critical step to support the advancement of accessible career and technical education (CTE) for students to meet the growing demands of today’s workforce.
This bill reauthorizes and modernizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins Act), which was passed in 1984. While the Perkins Act was funded and provided increased access to CTE for students in the United States, the act must be improved upon in order to incorporate growing technological trends and skillsets needed to foster innovation.
A similar piece of legislation was approved in the fall of 2016 with a vote of 405 in favor by the US House of Representatives. The current legislation is being marked up in committee now and may be presented on floor of the House as early as next week.
SWE signed on as a supporter of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act because is critical that educational opportunities prioritizing the acquisition of technical skills continue to be funded by the United States government. Without such funding, future job seekers within the United States will not have the competitive edge needed to bring innovation to the United States economy.
According to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, this bill will “ensure career and technical education prepares all students, including historically disadvantaged and vulnerable students.” SWE considers it vital that all students, including girls, are given equal educational opportunities when pursuing technical education.
While more women enter and finish college then males, fewer females enter programs in engineering and other key C-STEM majors. As the Pew Research Center demonstrates, there is a particular increase in college enrollment in the number of Hispanic and African American females when compared to their male counterparts. It is therefore vital that women are given equal access to technical educational opportunities.
Women and girls encounter obstacles at each major transition in their careers in engineering and technology: from middle school to high school, from high school to college, completing college in an intended major, and from college to career. To address these issues, SWE supports a comprehensive pathway at three distinct stages:
- By introducing creative ways for girls to engage with engineering and technology through its Outreach and SWENext programming for students 18 and under and their educators and their families;
- By providing scholarships, offering collegiate memberships, and leadership development for collegians; and
- By providing ongoing professional development, continuing education modules, and membership for professionals.
SWE is pleased to support this critical piece of legislation. According to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the legislation will:
- Deliver states more flexibility to use federal resources in response to changing education and economic needs.
- 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 state and 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.
Additional Primary Resources provided by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce: