STRENGTHENING CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY ACT

September 13, 2016
Floor Statements

 Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5587, the Strengthening CTE for the 21st Century Act, which would reauthorize the Perkins Career and Technical Education program.

   The research is clear: the United States workforce is suffering from a skills gap. According to one study, 65 percent of all jobs in the United States in the near future will require at least some education or training past the high school level--not necessarily a 4-year degree, but some education and training past the high school level. In Virginia alone, we have thousands of jobs in the tech sector that go unfilled because of the lack of qualified applicants. Some of those jobs have salaries of $88,000.

   Today's CTE program is not the vocational education of the past, where students pursued a career rather than academic studies. Now the current programs integrate the academic curriculum which will assist in preparing participants for postsecondary education and credentials.

   Mr. Speaker, people in the future will have to learn a new job; but if they don't have the academic background, we will be doing them a great disservice. This bill will allow students to pursue a career track; and if they change their mind later on, they are still getting the academics. They can go to a college-ready program.

   We need to make sure that we have greater accountability for program quality. We want to ensure that we have more inclusive collaboration between educational institutions, industries, employers, and community partners. And we need to make sure that those programs are aligned with our recent K through 12 education and workforce systems.

   I would like to thank all of the people who have been involved in this, particularly the gentlewoman from Massachusetts (Ms. Clark) and the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Thompson), along with Mr. Langevin from Rhode Island, who is the chair of the CTE Caucus, and all of the others who have worked across the aisle to bring us together today.

   This bill, as has been pointed out, has been reported unanimously from the Education and the Workforce Committee, has strong support across the aisle, and I trust that we will pass it. I hope the Senate will take it up as soon as possible.