Senate CTE Caucus Hosts Briefing on CTE and the Skills Gap

Yesterday morning, the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus hosted a panel briefing on the role CTE has in closing the nation’s persistent skills gap. As Congress begins to finalize the remainder of its legislative agenda for the year, this event was aimed at reminding lawmakers, their staff, and the general public about the important contribution CTE has in educating and training students across the country for careers most demanded by employers.

Senate CTE Caucus Co-Chairs, Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Mike Enzi (R-WY) provided opening remarks to the event which touched upon this core message. A recurring theme throughout these statements emphasized the importance of reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) as a way to drive innovation and foster the growth of rigorous, high-quality CTE programs across the country. Sen. Portman in particular highlighted some of the core principles contained in recent legislation which he and some of his Senate colleagues hope to address through this reauthorization:

  • More clearly defining what constitutes a high-quality CTE program through the incorporation of key programmatic elements
  • Increasing opportunities for students to gain postsecondary credit in secondary school
  • Promoting greater collaboration between secondary CTE and postsecondary CTE
  • Supporting the attainment of industry recognized certifications, licenses, and credentials
  • Ensuring states and locals have the flexibility to cultivate and build relationships with employers to ensure clear links between the needs of the labor market and the CTE enterprise and relevant work experiences for students

Following these remarks a distinguished panel of leaders from education, business and the public sector shared their perspectives on how they have leveraged CTE to address the evolving demands of the modern economy and provided policy recommendations for improving upon the past successes of CTE to date. Panelists included:

  • Charles “Chuck” Speelman, Superintendent, Tri-Rivers Career Center, Marion, OH
  • Danny Hunley, Vice President of Operations, Newport News Shipbuilding, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News, VA
  • Bryan Albrecht, President, Gateway Technical College, Kenosha, WI
  • Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor

A recording of this briefing can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

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