Congress OKs more federal funding for career and technical education
Local community colleges and high schools can benefit from increased federal funding to expand and modernize career, technical and vocational education programs.
President Donald Trump Tuesday signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act into law after it unanimously passed both houses of Congress.
U.S. Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg and Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania — the lead Democratic and Republican sponsors — say the legislation’s reauthorization took 12 years, including two years of “painstaking negotiations and compromise” in the House and Senate.
It authorizes roughly $80 million more in yearly funding over six years starting this fiscal year supporting roughly 13 million students participating in career and technical education and vocational programs at community colleges, high schools and technical campuses nationwide. The total allocation for such programs increases to more than $1.3 billion annually by 2024.
Currently, 6.5 million jobs go unfilled because employers cannot find workers with the applicable skills, said Krishnamoorthi, who represents the 8th Congressional District that includes parts of Cook, DuPage and Kane counties.
“It fills the skills gap,” Krishnamoorthi said. “It’s going to help all the businesses out there looking for talented and skilled workers. A lot of authority for spending the money gets shifted from Washington to state and local (institutions), community colleges and high school districts because they know the local labor conditions.”
Illinois must submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education outlining how it will administer the money based on market needs.
Funding to institutions is conditional upon educators working with local business and industry partners to design training programs for skills sought by employers. Providing high school and postsecondary students with on-the-job training in fields, such as cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, and health care also is emphasized.
Krishnamoorthi said two-thirds of Americans workers do not have a college degree; improved career and technical education, and schools and businesses working together to create more apprentice programs would lead to better jobs for those without a degree. Private businesses also can invest more freely in CTE programs to meet their specific needs, he added.
“College may not be something that everybody wants to attend, however, a postsecondary education is absolutely crucial,” Krishnamoorthi said. “What this does is to make sure that people get access to the skills necessary to participate in the middle class through a family-sustaining job and career.”
Author: Madhu Krishnamurthy