Today, Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) once again supported legislation to close the skills gap and ensure Pennsylvania workers have the tools they need to fill high-skilled and in-demand jobs. Barletta, a long-time supporter of career and technical education (CTE) and a cosponsor of the bill, voted for the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The bill, which passed the House unanimously by voice vote, now heads to President Donald J. Trump's desk to be signed into law.
"When I'm visiting with local job creators back in Pennsylvania, I always hear that they have good-paying, family-sustaining jobs available, but can't find workers to fill them," Barletta said. "Thanks to tax reform and the Trump Administration's policies, we've hit an 18-year low unemployment rate, and now have more jobs available than unemployed Americans. This bill will ensure Pennsylvania workers have the skills necessary to fill these jobs, support their families, and contribute to our growing economy."
In June of 2017, the House unanimously voted to approve H.R. 2353, which was introduced by Pennsylvania Representative Glenn Thompson (PA-5), and strengthens and reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, legislation providing federal support to state and local CTE programs. This past Monday, the Senate finally voted on the bill, making minor changes that required further action in the House before being sent to the president.
CTE programs offer students the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to compete for jobs in a broad range of fields, such as health care and technology. However, because federal law has not been updated in more than a decade, U.S. workforce development programs no longer reflect the challenges facing students and workers. H.R. 2353 improves how government invests in the American workforce and strengthens American competitiveness.
Specifically, H.R. 2353 would:
Give states more flexibility to use federal resources in response to changing education and economic needs.
Ensure CTE prepares all students, including historically disadvantaged and vulnerable students, for success in high-skill, high-wage jobs in nontraditional fields.
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 CTE 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 CTE and take into account unique local and state needs.
Barletta has long been a supporter of programs that help prepare Americans with the skills they need to compete for high-skilled, in-demand jobs. When mayor of Hazleton, Barletta participated in and promoted Partners in Education (PIE), a non-profit organization consisting of local business and education partners focused on ensuring that all students finished school with the academic, technical, and employable skills necessary to be successful in the 21st century workforce. PIE brings together local industries and the school district, allowing students to learn about opportunities that exist in their backyards, while also giving local industries a platform to educate students on what skills they were looking for in an employee. Earlier this year, Barletta used PIE as an example of how we prepare Americans workers with today's in-demand skills during a hearing held by the House Education and the Workforce Committee's Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development titled "Closing the Skills Gap: Private Sector Solutions for America's Workforce."
In May, 2017, Barletta participated in a press conference at Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) with state Sen. John Yudichak (D-Carbon/Luzerne) and representatives from higher education and workforce development advocacy groups to discuss the importance of reauthorizing the Perkins Act. Barletta then toured LCCC and met with students learning various trade skills.