On Friday, the House Congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus hosted a field hearing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to explore the ongoing challenges with the nation’s skills gap and the role CTE has in addressing it.
The bipartisan hearing, titled “The Role of Career & Technical Education in Creating a Skilled Workforce: Perspectives from Employers and Stakeholders,” was co-hosted by State Senator John Blake (PA-22), Co-Chair of the House CTE Caucus Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Rep. Perry (R-PA).
Rep. Thompson began Friday’s hearing by laying out the central role CTE has in addressing the nation’s skills gap and pointed out that, “the number one asset of any business is its people and CTE is an integral part of developing them.”
State Senator Blake also underscored the hearing’s core focus on the need for more employer engagement in CTE. “We need to better connect our schools to the business community — and our business community to our schools . . . Early and effective career development assures for our children a more efficient transition from school to the world of work and enhances our state’s economic growth,” he said.
Six witnesses, including NASDCTEc Executive Director Kimberly Green, provided expert testimony on how CTE could more effectively engage with employers and the role federal legislation could have in aligning CTE programs more closely to the needs of the local, regional, and state economy.
Green’s testimony highlighted NASDCTEc’s 2010 CTE Vision and the organization’s legislative recommendations for the reauthorization of the principal federal CTE legislation— the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).
In addition to her remarks, five other witnesses provided a broad array of perspectives from both the private sector and institutions, highlighting the unique challenges facing them in their respective industries and how stronger partnerships with CTE programs could help to address these issues and improve CTE program relevancy and outcomes. Witnesses included:
- Tamar Jacoby, President, Opportunity America Jobs and Careers Coalition
- Jim Kunz, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers
- Amanda Novak, Human Resource Manager, Tri-M Group
- Neil Ashbaugh, Training and Development Specialist, Oberg Industries
- Sandra Himes, Executive Director, Lehigh Career & Technical Institute
Following testimony, the assembled lawmakers had the opportunity to pose a series of questions to the witnesses, requesting specific recommendations and strategies for how to improve and elevate the entire CTE enterprise to balance the shared interests of both students and employers. A recording of the event is can be viewed here and a press release outlining some of the hearing’s key takeaways can be found here.
Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager