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Employer Engagement and Enhanced Coordination Key to Strengthening Career and Technical Education

The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep.  John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing to discuss proposals to strengthen career and technical education (CTE) through a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a related hearing in September to discuss challenges facing CTE programs.

In his opening remarks, Chairman Kline highlighted the importance of reauthorizing the Perkins Act to encourage enhanced coordination between schools, states, and businesses. He also acknowledged opportunities to incorporate ideas from the Obama administration's blueprint for reforming CTE in the committee's reauthorization efforts.

“However,” Chairman Kline stated, “I am discouraged by this morning’s news that President Obama plans to announce a new national competitive grant program aimed at career education – without any input from Congress. Another program will only further muddle the system at a time when we need to make smart, structural reforms to improve CTE programs under the Perkins Act.”

During the hearing, IBM International Foundation President and Vice President of IBM’s Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Stanley Litow echoed Chairman Kline’s call for a revamped CTE system that emphasizes enhanced coordination with the business community.

“Business involvement, which is critical to connecting education and economic need, is spotty at best,” Mr. Litow said. “With very little business involvement, few CTE programs are aligned to real jobs and needed skills…Employers, educators, and government and community leaders must collaborate, with each contributing its specific expertise to solve complex employment needs and prepare the new generation of workers.”

Dr. Blake Flanders, Vice President of Workforce Development for the Kansas Board of Regents, stressed the importance of providing CTE students more opportunities to earn relevant credentials and certificates that accelerate their transition into the workforce.

“Strong connections to business and industry are the key to successful career technical education programs that produce positive outcomes for students and assist business in staying competitive,” Dr. Flanders said. “All career and technical education programs, where possible, must include industry credentials. Industry credentials provide a clear and direct connection between education and work and ensure graduates have the skills employers require in the new economy.”

Gateway Technical College President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Bryan Albrecht described how postsecondary institutions can work with secondary schools and CTE programs to ensure students earn valuable credentials that will help them advance both academically and in the workforce.

Dr. Albrecht said, “Gateway Technical College in partnership with the Kenosha Unified School District co-operates a high school and adult learning center called LakeView Technology Academy. Students beginning in grade 9 are exposed to college faculty and curriculum throughout their high school experience. Beginning their junior year, high school students enroll in Gateway courses in engineering, manufacturing and information technology, all offered in the LakeView Academy. When they graduate, students will have earned between 18 [and] 40 college credits, building a pathway to college and career success.”

Chairman Kline concluded, “We have made great progress this year in advancing proposals to modernize and reform both the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Workforce Investment Act. It’s time to build on that progress and further integrate our schools and workplaces with a reauthorization of the Perkins Act. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in hopes we can craft smart, bipartisan proposals to strengthen career and technical education in America.”

To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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