WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Todd Young (R-IN), co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced bipartisan legislation to raise the quality of CTE programs at schools in Virginia and across the country. The Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act amends the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to better meet the needs of a 21st century workforce and ensure students have access to the highest-quality CTE programs. Kaine, who introduced an earlier version of the legislation in the 114th Congress, has traveled across Virginia to visit career and tech education programs. Later today, Kaine will co-host the Senate CTE Caucus’ 3rd annual Career and Technical Education Fair where students from Virginia, Ohio, and Wisconsin will showcase and demonstrate projects that highlight how real-world problem solving skills and CTE are preparing America’s future workforce to meet real-world challenges.
“Programs that give kids the skills in high school to prepare them for post-secondary education and employment can yield benefits after graduation and later in students’ careers,” said Kaine. “This bipartisan bill helps workers and the economy by equipping more students with skills needed to get a job in an in-demand field in their state and ensuring employers have access to a skilled workforce.”
“Career and Technical Education makes our kids job-ready on graduation day, giving them skills that are in demand and a running start on their careers,” said Portman. “Our bipartisan legislation would improve the quality of CTE programs so that these kids get a better education using the equipment and the standards of today’s industry. That’s good for our economy because it would help us keep skilled jobs from going overseas. It’s good for employers, who are looking for skilled workers, but most of all it’s good for thousands kids in Ohio and across the country, because it will help them get good jobs and live out their God-given potential.”
“I’ve heard firsthand from students, businesses and manufacturers in Wisconsin and it’s clear that we need to do more to support career and technical education so people are better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Senator Baldwin. “Career and technical education has shown to be one of the most effective ways to respond to our workforce readiness needs and create shared prosperity. Our bipartisan effort will support Wisconsin’s career and technical students and provide companies with the skilled workforce they need to create stronger growth for our economy.”
“Strong CTE programs are a critical part of equipping students with the skills they need in tomorrow’s workforce,” said Young. With almost half of employers nationwide experiencing a lack of skilled workers, this legislation is a positive step forward in closing the skills gap and addressing the needs of our local communities.”
Kaine, who grew up working in his dad’s ironworking shop and later spearheaded the creation of Governor’s Career and Technical Academies in Virginia – now Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academies – has made improving and strengthening access to CTE a top priority in the Senate. The Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act would allow states and localities to use Perkins grant funding to establish CTE-focused academies like the Governor’s Academies in Virginia established by then-Governor Kaine. The bill encourages schools to incorporate key elements of high-quality CTE programs and promotes partnerships between local businesses, regional industries and other community stakeholders to create work-based learning opportunities for students.
Numerous career and education groups support the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, including the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Academy Foundation (NAF), and the National Career Development Association (NCDA).
A full fact sheet on the bill can be found here.