Congress should get behind career tech measure

 

I enjoyed your historical overview of career and technical education ("Career education evolves to meet students, employers' needs," Feb. 8).

Author Mike Zimmerman noted that 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of state and federal coordination to extend more meaningful high school opportunities to millions of previously unengaged youths through Career Technical Education. He added that "adaptability" is a longstanding hallmark of these programs -- constantly re-tooling to help today's students prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.

As an employer, I couldn't agree more. My die-cutters, screen-printers, logistics managers and other workers don't operate in a static world. The skills they require and the technology they use are always evolving.

CTE provides students with the practical instruction they need to hit the ground running when they enter the workforce. These programs help answer a critical question posed by Mr. Zimmerman: "How do we address the growing skills gap facing this rapidly changing economy while preparing students for careers in fields that don't yet exist?"

In fact, we now face the opportunity -- and the need -- to apply that same spirit of adaptation in reaffirming federal support for these vital, "deeper learning" efforts. Congress should reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act in ways that truly reflect the needs of our 21st-century workforce.

Reauthorization can prioritize partnerships that better align secondary and postsecondary institutions, employers, and CTE programs to meet labor-market needs. It can strengthen career pathways at the state and local levels through the integration of rigorous academic content and work-based learning opportunities.

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A 405-5 vote by the U.S. House last year revealed solid, bipartisan support for such a measure. Now is the time to resume and complete that important work, for congressional action to sustain and strengthen CTE programs for the future of our students and our workforce.

Lisa Savegnago

President, Nameplate & Panel Technology

Carol Stream

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