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Briefing on infrastructure illuminates the need for skills

  ·   By Jessica Cardott
Briefing on infrastructure illuminates the need for skills

On June 14th, the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus hosted a briefing in conjunction with Business Leaders United and National Skills Coalition called “Building America’s Infrastructure Workforce.” The briefing explored how the administration’s investment in infrastructure initiatives would create millions of new jobs for Americans who are currently out of work, underemployed, or seeking higher wages. The policy recommendations discussed in the briefing can be found here.

Senator Baldwin, one of the four CTE Caucus co-chairs, opened the briefing with comments on the importance of investing in sector partnerships and apprenticeship in in-demand industries.

Industry leaders and Congressional support

BLU brought together two industry-led workforce partnerships to share best practices and policy recommendations to support workforce development in infrastructure. Dawn Pratt, from The Walbec Group, and Mark Kessenich, from WRTP/Big STEP. The Walbec Group is a family of companies that provide professional infrastructure construction and engineering services.  Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership / Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program (WRTP/BIG STEP) helps Dawn’s companies run work-based learning programs and develop a skilled pool of construction workers for The Walbec Group’s projects.

Pat Steele, the Site Director for Central Iowa Works and Dr. Matt Bruinekool, a consultant at Master Builders of Iowa completed the panel. Central Iowa Works is a regional sector partnership that has helped local businesses, including those with which Matt works, meet workforce demands by expanding populations of workers with access to training to get the skills necessary for the transportation logistics and distribution jobs in central Iowa.

NSC’s Senior Federal Policy Analyst Katie Spiker facilitated the briefing.

Sector partnership and work-based learning, demystified

The panelists shared how employers and other stakeholders are partnering to develop workforce pipelines in infrastructure sectors and why these partnerships have become vital to their success. Both employers on the panel emphasized the importance of their partnerships with the regional sector partnerships in their area. Dawn described the importance of being able to reach out to just one entity, Mark’s organization, when her companies need new workers or when she was developing training programs and needed to work with community colleges, unions or other stakeholders in the community. Matt added that Pat’s organization provides training before workers were on the job as well as support services once workers were employed, making it possible for his employers to increase productivity and be confident in the skills and retention of their workers.

Both employers also emphasized the importance of the partnerships connecting workers with supportive services. Pat described his organization’s provision of transportation services to new workers, a service that ensures workers can make it to their worksites.

Mark emphasized that while these services are vital to the retention of good workers and continued productivity for WRTP/Big Step’s business partners, work-based learning programming and support services can be expensive. He emphasized the importance of Congressional investments in current job training programs like the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and including investment in workforce development in any upcoming Congressional infrastructure bill.

Together, they started a dialogue about the benefits of investing in human capital and how federal policy can support these innovative strategies.

Exposure and reach

Representatives from more than a dozen Congressional offices attended the briefing. While in DC, Pat and Matt met with Senator Ernst’s office about the importance of supporting workforce training and education programs and including these priorities in upcoming infrastructure legislation. The panelists also took a meeting with the Department of Transportation Senior Program Advisor, Marilyn Shazor, to explain how they have used sector partnerships to fill skilled positions in the industry.

President Trump visited Dawn and Mark’s home state of Wisconsin the day before the briefing to talk about jobs. In response to this visit and the President’s previous call to drastically cut federal investments in job training and education, Dawn and Mark spoke with the Washington Post about their reliance on federal investments to support infrastructure workforce pipelines. 

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Career and Technical Education, Work Based Learning, Iowa, Wisconsin, Business Leaders United
President Trump Executive Order Calls for Apprenticeship Expansion, directs federal agencies to propose elimination of “ineffective” workforce training programs

Earlier today, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO), “Expanding Apprenticeships in America,” and announced a new initiative to expand apprenticeship in the U.S. The proposal would provide industry associations, unions, and other stakeholders the flexibility to develop standards for "industry-recognized apprenticeships" (that would complement the existing registered apprenticeship system).

The EO directs the Secretary of Labor, in cooperation with the Secretaries of Commerce and Education, to consider proposing new regulations to support the expansion of industry-recognized apprenticeships through the use of third-party certifying entities. Among other things, the regulations must reflect an assessment of whether to:

  • determine how qualified third parties may provide recognition to industry-recognized apprenticeship programs
  • establish guidelines or requirements that qualified third parties should or must follow to ensure that apprenticeship programs they recognize meet quality standards
  • whether to retain the current Registered Apprenticeship system for current employers; and
  • Establishing review process for industry-certified apprenticeships, including processes for terminating a program.

The Secretary is required to consider and evaluate public comments prior to issuing the new regulations, which will allow for stakeholders to provide input into any final rule.

The EO also establishes a new Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, which would be chaired by the Secretary of Labor and co-chaired by the Secretaries of Education and Commerce, and would also include representatives from industry, labor, and educational institutions. The task force would be responsible for developing a report to the president detailing:

  • Federal initiatives that can expand apprenticeship;
  • Legislative and administrative reforms necessary to support expansion; and
  • Strategies to create and expand industry-recognized apprenticeships; and
  • Strategies to support private-sector initiatives to promote apprenticeships.

The EO requires the Secretary to use available funding, including funds provided to the Department of Labor under the H-1B visa program, to promote apprenticeship, with a particular focus on expanding participation in apprenticeship for students in accredited secondary and postsecondary institutions, expanding apprenticeship in sectors without sufficient apprenticeship opportunities, and increasing youth participation in apprenticeship. The EO further calls on federal agencies to take steps to promote apprenticeships with targeted populations, including individuals who are currently or formerly incarcerated, disconnected youth, and veterans.

The Trump Administration’s focus on apprenticeship comes on the heels of efforts under President Obama to expand registered apprenticeship programs, including more than $250 million in grants and contracts to states, national intermediaries, and other stakeholders. The EO does not specifically address how the new initiative will be connected to those ongoing investments.

Overall, the president’s proposals with respect to apprenticeship are consistent with National Skills Coalition’s longstanding support for industry-driven partnerships that support work-based learning and other strategies to connect businesses and workers. While there is clearly much still to be decided prior to implementation – including how to ensure that new industry-certified programs meet quality standards and ensuring that workers continue to benefit from wage increases and other protections associated with traditional registered apprenticeship programs – the initiatives outlined in the EO appear to be a good first step toward our goal of getting to five million apprentices. National Skills Coalition looks forward to working with the administration and other stakeholders to make sure that this effort leads to the expansion of high quality programs that meet the needs of workers and employer partners.

Evaluating Federal Workforce and Education Programs

While the apprenticeship components of the EO were generally good, there were some troubling provisions relating to other federal workforce programs. The order directs all Federal agencies with jurisdiction over at least one job training program to evaluate the effectiveness of those programs, and proposes elimination of programs deemed to be “ineffective, redundant, or unnecessary.” In light of the president’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget which called for substantial cuts to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), and other workforce, education, and human services programs, the direction to propose further cuts or eliminations is a step in the wrong direction. These important federal programs fund the country's workforce and CTE system and although they have strong bipartisan support in Congress, they are already underfunded after more than a decade of cuts. This trend has frustrated small and medium-sized businesses who struggle to find skilled workers.

Under WIOA, registered apprenticeship programs are automatically eligible to access training funds provided through a state's eligible training provider list, registered apprenticeship representatives are required to participate in strategic and operational activities of the local and state workforce development boards, and reporting requirements are relaxed for these programs compared to the requirements for other training providers. These changes are intended to better align the workforce system with the apprenticeship system. President Trump’s proposed cuts to the workforce system, however, would impact state and local efforts to build these connections, and would likely undermine the administration’s efforts to increase apprenticeship utilization.

National Skills Coalition opposes any efforts to cut needed workforce and education investments, and we will continue to work with our national, state and local partners to resist further cuts to these vital services. 

Read the a statement from Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of NSC on the Expanding Apprenticeships in America Executive Order here.

Posted In: Career and Technical Education, Sector Partnerships, Federal Funding, Adult Basic Education, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Work Based Learning
Trump FY 2018 Budget Slashes Funding for Key Workforce, Education, Human Services Programs

This morning, the Trump Administration released the President’s detailed budget proposals for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, calling for dramatic cuts to a range of federal programs, including steep reductions in funding for key workforce, education, and human services programs. While the proposed cuts were not unexpected – the Administration had released a so-called “skinny” budget in March that highlighted topline cuts to many agency budgets – the budget documents released today provide more specific information about the Administration’s policy priorities.

Though Congress is not expected to adopt all of the President’s proposals, the budget sets an unfortunate baseline for policymakers as they begin the FY 2018 budget and appropriations process. The budget includes a range of recommendations for reducing federal support for means-tested public assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which could be included to offset tax cuts as part of a budget reconciliation package later this year. Appropriators will also be under pressure to provide some cuts to discretionary programs, including training services authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act, despite the strong bipartisan support for these critical programs.

Department of Labor. Overall, the President’s budget calls for $9.6 billion in funding for DOL, a cut of $2.5 billion (21 percent) relative to the levels under the FY 2017 omnibus. The budget calls for significant reductions in funding for key workforce programs under WIOA, which was reauthorized by Congress in 2014. The budget calls for cuts of approximately $1 billion from the three state formula grants under Title I of WIOA, cutting WIOA Adult from $816 million to $490 million, Dislocated Worker state grants from just over $1 billion to $615 million, and reducing youth grants from $873 million to $416 million. Overall, the formula grant cuts represent about a 40 percent reduction from current funding levels, which would have devastating impacts on states and local communities seeking to address the skill needs of businesses and jobseekers.

The budget also proposes eliminating several national programs administered by DOL, including the Workforce Data Quality initiative that provides states with funding to strengthen data systems; the migrant and seasonal farmworker grant program; and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Dislocated Worker National Reserve grants are reduced by a little more than $100 million, and the budget proposes more modest reductions to a range of other national programs, including cuts of about $5 million for apprenticeship grants and $10 million for ex-offender grants. Wagner-Peyser Employment Services (ES) state grants under WIOA Title III would be cut by about $256 million, nearly 40 percent below current levels.

The budget proposes providing local workforce boards the ability to transfer up to 100 percent of funds allocated for adult programs to youth activities and 100 percent of funds allocated for youth activities to adult activities. It also would provide the Secretary of Labor the authority to waive administrative and reporting requirements, with the justification of improving efficiency and reducing administrative costs to local areas.

Department of Education. The Department of Education would be funded at $59 billion under the President’s budget, a cut of $9 billion (13 percent) relative to FY 2017 levels. The proposal would make significant cuts to a number of key programs that help low-income and other individuals obtain the skills necessary to compete in today’s workforce, including cuts of roughly $168 million for career and technical education state grants under the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act – a reduction of 15 percent against current funding; $96 million in cuts (or about 16 percent) to adult education state grants under WIOA Title II; and more than $500 million in cuts to the federal work-study program that can provide income support and work experience for lower-income college students. The budget proposes eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), which provides about $730 million in additional assistance to students with significant financial needs. 

The budget does include funding for the Pell Grant program, which provides financial aid to lower-income students, including funding to support “year-round Pell” awards that allow individuals to receive more than one grant in an academic year. Congress had restored year-round Pell in the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations package that was completed earlier this month. The budget would provide sufficient funding to support the maximum grant award at $5,920, but would rescind $3.9 billion in prior year funding, which may impact the financial stability of the program in future years.

Department of Agriculture. One of the most sweeping changes under the FY 2018 budget is the proposal to change programmatic requirements around SNAP, which provides vital food assistance to more than 40 million Americans. The budget calls for reducing overall spending on SNAP and other federal nutrition programs by $194 billion over ten years – a cut of about 25 percent – by, among other things, limiting the current waiver for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) to counties with unemployment exceeding ten percent, and other changes to restrict eligibility; eliminating the minimum SNAP benefit; and phasing in a state matching requirement over ten years, with states ultimately expected to provide a 25 percent match. The budget does not appear to propose changes to the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program, which some states use to connect participants with skills-based training programs at community colleges and community-based organizations. SNAP helps millions of people feed put food on their table while they’re in between jobs or trying to move up within their career. Without access to food assistance, it will be harder for unemployed people and low-wage workers to participate in training that leads to a family-supporting job. However, the proposed changes to eligibility will likely reduce access to needed benefits, as states are pressured to find work activities for more recipients with fewer resources.

Department of Health and Human Services. The budget proposes significant cuts to HHS programs that can help support employment and training while providing critical assistance to sustain engagement in work.

The budget would cut current funding levels for the TANF program by a combined $2.2 billion, reducing the federal block grant from $16.7 billion to $15.1 billion and eliminating the $608 million TANF Contingency Fund that is intended to assist states facing economic downturns. If enacted, the proposed cuts would reduce overall federal support for TANF by a combined $21.7 billion over the next decade. Given that the overall block grant has not been increased since TANF was passed in 1996, the proposed cuts would mean that its inflation-adjusted purchasing power would be more than 40 percent below original funding levels.

The budget also calls for elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and related community services programs, a total of $769 million in cuts. Many states and local areas use CSBG funds to support training and related activities that help residents of low-income communities connect to employment.

National Skills Coalition strongly opposes the unnecessary and drastic cuts in the President’s budget proposal. At a time when millions of U.S. workers are seeking the skills and credentials to get and keep family-supporting jobs – and when U.S. businesses are struggling to find qualified individuals to keep up with demand – such significant reductions in federal workforce, education, and human services programs will make our nation less competitive in the global economy. NSC calls on Congress to reject the President’s proposals and to ensure that we continue our bipartisan commitment to investments in skills.   


FY 2018 – Authorized Levels

FY 2017 Omnibus

FY 2018 President’s Budget

Change FY 2017-2018

Department of Labor

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants[1]





WIOA Adult





WIOA Dislocated Worker[2]





WIOA Youth





Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service Grants






Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants





Apprenticeship Grants





DW National Reserve





Native American Programs





Ex-Offender Activities





Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers





Youth Build





Senior Community Service Employment Program


$433, 535,000


-$433, 535,000

Department of Education

Career and Technical Education State Grants





Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants





Federal Work Study






Posted In: Federal Funding, Career and Technical Education, SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
House Education and Workforce Committee approves Perkins reauthorization

On May 17th, the House Education and Workforce Committee marked up  and unanimously voted to advance the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The bill would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and was introduced on May 4th by Reps. Thompson (R-PA) and Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).

In her introduction to the markup, Chairwoman Foxx (R-NC) emphasized the importance of career and technical education in helping students build the skills businesses need. Ranking Member Scott (D-VA), in his introduction, also emphasized the importance of reauthorization further aligning career and technical education with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

The bill passed by Committee was largely unchanged from the bill introduced last week. Though, Rep. Lewis (R-MN) introduced an amendment, passed by voice vote, to expand dual enrollment opportunities for students enrolled in CTE courses.

Rep. Wilson (D-FL) introduced, and later withdrew, an amendment to include ex-offenders in the list of special populations measured under the bill. Reps. Bonamici (D-OR) and Polis (D-CO) introduced an amendment to maintain an enforcement mechanism, in the current law, allowing the Department of Education to withhold funds from states who have not met program improvement goals for outcomes for special populations. The Representatives withdrew their amendment after discussion.

The bill is very similar to the reauthorization passed by the House with overwhelming bipartisan support last Congress. It is consistent with NSC’s reauthorization priorities and includes provisions that would make it easier for states and CTE providers to coordinate with activities under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), including closer alignment of postsecondary performance indicators with the core performance indicators under WIOA, and requirements that state Perkins plans describe how CTE programs fit within the state’s broader vision and strategy for preparing an educated and skilled workforce. The bill would also adopt several key WIOA definitions, including recognized postsecondary credentials, industry or sector partnerships, and career pathways.

After being advanced by the House, the Senate was not able to move the bill forward last Congress, in part due to disagreements over the Secretary of Education’s oversight role echoed in Reps. Bonamici and Polis’ withdrawn amendment.

NSC has joined with the Perkins CTE Coalition, a broad range of nearly 300 stakeholders, to support the legislation. We look forward to working with members of the House and Senate to advance a reauthorization that meets the needs of workers and businesses and will continue to monitor the bill’s progress. 

Posted In: Career and Technical Education

Senators introduce JOBS Act

  ·   By Nicky Lauricella Coolberth
Senators introduce JOBS Act

On January 25th, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, legislation that would amend the Higher Education Act by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term job training programs. The bill would help students access training for the 5.5 million vacant jobs that are unfilled in part due to a shortage of qualified workers.

Read NSC’s press release .

Tell your Senators to support the JOBS Act.

Under current law, Pell Grants - needs-based grants for low-income and working students— can only be applied toward programs that are over 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks in length, even though many job training programs are shorter term. The JOBS Act would expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality job training programs that are at least 8 weeks in length and lead to industry-recognized credentials and certificates.

According to NSC’s own analysis, nearly half of all job openings between now and 2024 will be “middle-skill” jobs that require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree.  While the number of students pursuing postsecondary certification is growing, the supply of skilled workers still falls short of industry demand.  Middle-skill jobs account for 53 percent of United States’ labor market, but only 43 percent of the country’s workers are trained to the middle-skill level.

The JOBS Act would amend the Higher Education Act by:

  • Expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term skills and job training programs that lead to industry-based credentials and ultimately employment in in-demand industry sectors or careers
  • Defining eligible job training programs as those providing career and technical education instruction at an institution of higher education such as a community or technical college that provides:
  • At least 150 clock hours of instruction time over a period of at least 8 weeks
  • Training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce
  • Students with licenses, certifications or credentials that meet the hiring requirements of multiple employers in the field for which the job training is offered
    • Ensuring that students who receive Pell Grants are earning high-quality postsecondary credentials by requiring that the credentials:
    • Meet the standards under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
    • Are recognized by employers, industry or sector partnerships
    • Align with the skill needs of industries in the State or local economy 
  • Awarding half of the current discretionary Pell amount or $2,887 to students who attend skills and job training programs since programs are shorter and less costly

National Skills Coalition applauds Senators Kaine and Portman for their continued leadership in expanding access to high quality postsecondary education, consistent with the higher education proposals outlined in our Skills for New Jobs Agenda. We look forward to working with the Senators to advance this important legislation.

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Career and Technical Education

U.S. Department of Labor announces America’s Promise Grants

  ·   By Kermit Kaleba
U.S. Department of Labor announces America’s Promise Grants

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced $111 million in America’s Promise grants to 23 regional workforce partnerships to support tuition-free education and training for high-demand industries. The new four-year grants build on President Obama’s 2015 proposal to provide up to two years of free community college for qualifying students, and will support a range of sector-driven strategies, including work-based learning, classroom instruction, and competency-based education. The grants are expected to provide more than 21,000 US workers with the skills and credentials they need to enter into, or advance within, target occupations. Grantees are expected to leverage more than $57 million in other federal and non-federal dollars to support the implementation of these programs.

Grant recipients announced today include:

The University of Alabama at Birmingham



MiraCosta Community College District



Delaware Technical Community College



Florida State College at Jacksonville



Brevard Workforce Development Board, Inc.



Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center



Tecumseh Area Partnership, Inc.



United Way of Central Iowa

Des Moines


Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, Inc.



Montgomery College



Grand Rapids Community College

Grand Rapids


Southeast Michigan Community Alliance



City of Springfield



RFCUNY on behalf of CUNY OAA - CEWP

New York


Monroe Community College



Worksystems, Inc.



Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training



Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce



Alamo Community College District

San Antonio


New River Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Area Consortium



West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission



Employ Milwaukee



Northern Wyoming Community College District



National Skills Coalition applauds the Obama administration’s continued efforts to expand access to quality education and training as part of their Job-Driven Training plan, including $2 billion in Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants that were released between 2011-2014, and more than $250 million in DOL grants to expand apprenticeship over the past two years.  These investments have helped tens of thousands of workers take advantage of new work opportunities while helping businesses across a range of industries develop talent pipelines that will support their growth and competitiveness. As we look forward to the 115th Congress and the beginning of the Trump administration in 2017, we hope that policymakers will expand on these important efforts, and ensure that every workers and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.

Posted In: Federal Funding, Career and Technical Education, Higher Education Access, Job-Driven Investments
Training, skills gap in media spotlight as economy becomes focus of election

Training programs, career and technical education, and the middle skills gap are in the national media spotlight this month, including two recent stories featuring National Skills Coalition - just as we head into election debate season.

This month, NPR’s Marketplace and the Christian Science Monitor consulted with NSC for insight on job-driven investments in skills training, and the idea that our economy desperately needs people trained to the middle-skill level, not just those with four-year degrees.

In the Marketplace story entitled, “Skills Training is Having a Moment” NSC Chief of Staff Rachel Unruh explained, “right now and in the next ten years, the largest portion of jobs are going to be in that middle area, the jobs that require more than high school, but less than a four-year degree, but that's not really how we invest,” Even though the jobs that require a four-year degree are a much smaller part of the labor market, we invest considerably more resources in preparing people for those jobs,” 

The Christian Science Monitor article entitled “Training programs promise good jobs without college degrees. Can they deliver?” highlighted National Skills Coalition’s analysis on middle skill jobs, publishing an NSC graphic showing how middle-skill jobs make up 54% of jobs in the U.S. economy, but only 44% of U.S. workers are trained at the middle-skill level. And CEO Andy Van Kleunen weighed in on how four-year degrees aren’t the only path to a good job. “There was an ideology and philosophy that the only good job out there is one for which you need a four-year degree,” Andy Van Kleunen, chief executive officer of the coalition, tells the Monitor. “The data never showed that.”

The issue of the economy is likely to take center stage during the election season – and there’s plenty of evidence candidates want to talk about skills. Recently, in a major address given at a manufacturing plant in Michigan, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton laid out her economics agenda and asserted that, “a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job in America.”

Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine has advocated for apprenticeship and career and technical education throughout his career. Most recently, he introduced the JOBS Act which would expand Pell grants for workforce training and short term credentials in addition to traditional two and four year degree programs.

And former Presidential candidate John Kasich penned an oped for the New York Times advocating for connecting training opportunities with TANF.

Throughout the election season and beyond, NSC will be a resource to reporters covering skills issues, and a voice on our key issue: getting workers and industry the skills they need to compete.

Posted In: Career and Technical Education, Adult Basic Education, Work Based Learning

House committee unanimously approves Perkins reauthorization

  ·   By Kermit Kaleba
House committee unanimously approves Perkins reauthorization

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce today voted 37-0 to approve the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act” (H.R. 5587), legislation that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 through Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. National Skills Coalition submitted recommendations on the bill to the committee earlier this week.

The version of the bill approved by the committee was slightly different than the bill released by committee last week, with the most significant difference being a change to the state “maintenance of effort” provisions under the law; the original bill had allowed states to reduce their MOE requirements over time, but the amended version removes this language.

The bill now moves to the full House for consideration, but timing on a floor vote is unclear. Congress will adjourn next week for the national conventions and summer recess, so it seems likely that any action to move the legislation forward will have to wait until September. The Senate has not yet introduced their own Perkins reauthorization bill, though a bipartisan group of Senators on the HELP Committee, including Mike Enzi (R-WY), Bob Casey (D-PA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Patty Murray (D-WA),

 has been working on a draft for several months.

National Skills Coalition applauds the Education and Workforce Committee for their efforts to update and modernize the Perkins Act, and we look forward to working with lawmakers in both the House and Senate to advance a reauthorization that strengthens access to high quality career and technical education for all workers and all industries. 

Posted In: Career and Technical Education
National Skills Coalition submits recommendations on House Perkins reauthorization

National Skills Coalition today submitted a letter to leaders of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce regarding the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act” (H.R. 5587), a bill that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 through Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The letter, which was developed in consultation with NSC’s Postsecondary Education National Advisory Panel, expresses strong support for the overall direction of the proposed bipartisan legislation, while offering specific recommendations to strengthen alignment between Perkins-funded CTE programs and other federal, state, and local investments in skills. The committee has announced that they will hold a markup hearing on the bill this Thursday, July 7th at 10 am.  

As drafted, H.R. 5587 includes a range of policy changes to Perkins that would make it easier for states and CTE providers to coordinate with activities under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), including closer alignment of postsecondary performance indicators with the core performance indicators under WIOA, and requirements that state Perkins plans describe how CTE programs fit within the state’s broader vision and strategy for preparing an educated and skilled workforce. The proposed bill would also adopt a number of key WIOA definitions, including recognized postsecondary credentials, industry or sector partnerships, and career pathways. National Skills Coalition support these proposed changes, and offers additional recommendations on how the bill could be strengthened, consistent with our October 2015 reauthorization priorities, including (among other things):

  • Expanding the definition of “special populations” that must be served under Perkins to include certain populations identified as “individuals with barriers to employment” under WIOA, including long-term unemployed individuals and ex-offenders. This would promote better coordination with WIOA activities targeting individuals with barriers, while expanding access to high-quality Perkins-funded programs for such individuals.
  • Increasing authorized funding levels for the state formula grants. The bill as proposed would provide slight increases in formula grant funding, from about $1.13 billion in FY 2017 to about $1.21 billion in FY 2022; NSC notes that the FY 2022 funding would be approximately 15 percent less (in inflation-adjusted terms) than FY 2006 levels, and urges the committee to match historical investments.
  • Strengthening the postsecondary performance outcomes by adopting a measure of participation in employment, education, or advanced training in the 4th quarter after program completion and a measure of effectiveness in serving employers, consistent with WIOA. The proposed bill would include a measure of participation in education or employment in the 2nd quarter after program completion, a measure of median earnings of program completers, and a measure of individuals receiving a recognized postsecondary credential.
  • Encouraging states to use Unemployment Insurance (UI) quarterly wage records for employment outcome reporting, which would provide reliable data across states and other programs, and would enable stronger performance management, evaluation, and research,
  • Expanding investments in a proposed “Innovation Grant” fund, which could be used to support innovative activities carried out by consortia of secondary and postsecondary CTE providers, and other key stakeholders. NSC also encourages the committee to include the development of industry or sector partnerships, career pathways, and integrated education and training programs as eligible uses of these funds, as well as data pilots to improve tracking of certification and license attainment by CTE students.
  • Adding the state agency with responsibility for adult education activities under WIOA Title II to the list of entities that must be consulted as part of the state planning process.
  • Ensuring that state planning requirements relating to the development and implementation of career pathways include descriptions of how such activities will be coordinated with state and local activities funded under WIOA, to ensure consistency across programs.
  • Requiring states to carry out a range of state leadership activities that would support better student outcomes and cross-program alignment, including establishing and expanding work-based learning opportunities for CTE participants and coordinating career pathways and programs of study.
  • Establishing a minimum percentage of state formula grants for postsecondary CTE, which would help compensate for declining state investments in community and technical colleges in recent years, and support the development and implementation of high-quality programs.
  • Including industry or sector partnerships, where appropriate, as part of the local planning process, and expanding the list of required uses of local funds to support work-based learning activities and connections to sector partnerships and career pathways implemented under WIOA.

National Skills Coalition looks forward to working with policymakers and our national partners to strengthen and advance this critical legislation.   

Posted In: Career and Technical Education, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
House Committee Releases Perkins Career and Technical Education Act Reauthorization Bill

The House Education and Workforce Committee today released the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” a new bill that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act through Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The bill makes a number of policy changes intended to strengthen alignment between Perkins-funded CTE programs and other education and training programs, including activities funded under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

Among other things, the bill would:

  • Establish funding levels for  FY 2017-2022, with authorized levels increasing from $1.13 billion in FY 2017 to $1.21 billion in FY 2022; 
  • Strengthen alignment between postsecondary performance measures under Perkins with the common indicators of performance for core programs under WIOA, including requiring measures for employment, median earnings, and attainment of recognized postsecondary credentials. The law would eliminate the current requirements that state eligible agencies negotiate performance rates with the Department of Education, but would require states to publicly report performance on the indicators;
  • Authorize small amounts of funding for “innovation” grants to eligible consortia to create, develop, implement or scale up evidence-based programs to improve CTE outcomes;
  • Reduce the period covered by a Perkins state plan from six years to four years, require input from business and industry (including industry or sector partnerships, where appropriate), and require greater alignment with the state vision and strategy identified under WIOA, including descriptions of career pathways to be developed at the state and local levels;
  • Eliminate the “Tech-Prep” program currently authorized under Title II of Perkins, which was last funded in FY 2010.

The committee has also released a short summary of the bill. While a hearing date has not yet been announced, it is expected that the committee may try to mark up the draft as early as next week, with a goal of trying to advance the bill through the House before they adjourn for the summer on July 15th. National Skills Coalition will provide updates on the legislative process as new information become available, and will provide more detailed analysis of how the proposed bill aligns with our reauthorization recommendations in the next few days.

Posted In: Career and Technical Education
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